New study reveals Yukon’s invisible knowledge worker economy
WHITEHORSE – Keith Halliday and his wife, Stacy Lewis, are both knowledge workers. They live in Whitehorse, yet work globally.
"We love the Yukon and felt it was a great place to raise our four kids," said Halliday.
The Yukon-born management consultant provides strategic and organizational advice to corporate, government and non-profit clients as far away as Asia and Europe. Lewis, an intellectual property lawyer, works long-distance with a US law firm.
Halliday and Lewis moved back to Whitehorse 12 years ago. Their reasoning is shared by many of the 60 knowledge workers interviewed by Stefan Voswinkel and Rhiannon Klein.
Last spring, Voswinkel was tasked by the Yukon Research Centre, at Yukon College, with preparing the first-ever comprehensive survey of Yukon’s growing knowledge sector.
A knowledge worker himself, even Voswinkel was surprised by what he found.
"The sheer diversity of expertise represented by these professionals, who derive over fifty per cent of their income from outside Yukon, is both surprising and exciting," said Voswinkel, owner of Ylynx Management Consulting, Inc.
"Lawyers, researchers, scientists, software developers, graphic designers, geologists, writers, engineers, strategic planners - yet many of these people remain unknown to local business, government, and even to each other."
Voswinkel initially set out to interview 30 knowledge workers, but had to double this in order to capture an accurate snapshot of this invisible economy. An economy he estimates to currently employ over 300 Yukoners and be worth over $35 million.
"Expanding the knowledge sector presents a huge opportunity for Yukon to further diversify its economy beyond mining, government and tourism, in a way that is detached from Yukon’s regular economic cycles," said Voswinkel.
The survey results will be released at an invitation-only event at the Old Fire Hall in Whitehorse on Wednesday September 12th at 6 p.m. The event is designed to bring together a number of knowledge workers who participated in the survey with members of the business community, and representatives from Yukon College and government.
Voswinkel hopes this, along with the survey itself, will begin to change the invisible nature of knowledge work in Yukon.
"Better networking and communication was identified by interviewees as a key step in capitalizing on the significant growth potential of Yukon’s knowledge sector. It will also create peer support and mentoring opportunities, as well as business opportunities from areas of expertise that already exist," he said.
The study, which was funded by the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor), Yukon Economic Development and the Yukon Research Centre (YRC) at Yukon College, contains a number of recommendations to support and expand this sector.
The recommendations include attracting more knowledge workers through marketing efforts to change the outside perception of Yukon, creating more advanced training and development opportunities through Yukon College, increasing the role of the Yukon Research Centre in research, innovation and commercialization, improving internet service and pricing, and development of a Knowledge Sector Strategy.
"The Government of Yukon has identified the research, innovation and commercialization sector as an area of focus for diversifying our economy," said Economic Development Minister Currie Dixon.
"We remain committed to supporting, facilitating and funding key strategic projects, and the Knowledge Sector Survey is a prime example of that support, as well as the continuing partnership with the Yukon Research Centre."
The results and recommendations from the survey of Yukon’s Knowledge Sector are available for download from the Yukon College website at:
For more information, contact:
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867 332 4722
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