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Vancouver is one of Canada’s largest industrial centres. The traditional industries in British Columbia are forestry, mining, agriculture and fishing. Vancouver has developed a widespread service sector, and the film industry has become a big earner for the metro area. The biotechnology and software industries are highly advanced and Vancouver is poised to be a global player within these fields.
Job market in Vancouver
The city's location, coupled with its port being one of the busiest in the world, makes it a global hub of activity and business opportunities. Highly-qualified expats looking to work in Vancouver, and who have the right experience, are likely to find vacancies in their chosen field.
The Canadian economy is traditionally stable, and the country’s proximity to the United States gives it immediate access to the world’s largest consumer market. The tourism industry in Vancouver is also important. Each year, over a million people pass through Vancouver to take advantage of its natural wonders and to access Alaska on scheduled cruises.
That said, it can be difficult to find a job as an expat in Vancouver. The city has a wide pool of talented and highly qualified local workers, and competition can be fierce. But there are certain industries where a shortage of talent has forced employers to look further abroad for qualified workers to fill the gaps. One example is in the tech industry, which has rapidly expanded in recent years.
Finding a job in Vancouver
Unless one has local references or globally acknowledged skills, finding a job in Vancouver can be a challenge. There are some programmes that place prospective workers, but these are usually student or entry-level jobs. However, there are also a number of job-related websites that assist expats looking for positions in Vancouver, and the city’s various newspapers also have good job-listing sections.
Upon obtaining a job offer, unless expats have a permanent residence visa, they will need to apply for a work permit. There are certain requirements that need to be fulfilled by the visa applicant and their prospective employer before the working visa will be granted. There are many agencies that can help with this process.
Vancouver is a global hub of activity and business opportunity. Highly-qualified expats looking to work in Vancouver, and who have the right experience and determination to succeed, are likely to find vacancies in their chosen field.
Work culture in Vancouver
Vancouver is a highly cosmopolitan city and locals tend to be open minded and tolerant, and expat businesspeople can look forward to a welcoming working environment. Canada has a large and thriving free-market economy, and though there is more government intervention here than in the US, there is far less than in many European countries.
Canadians value punctuality, and it is rude to be more than a few minutes late. But besides promptness, the Vancouver work environment is much more relaxed when compared to big cities in the US. Canadian companies generally have egalitarian management structures. The typical management style in the Vancouver workplace tends to be less formal than in Europe, with managers preferring to be seen more as part of the team and less as aloof authority figures. Decisions ultimately rest with top management, but input across all levels is highly valued.
►Read the Banking, Money and Taxes in Canada page to get an overview of expat money matters
►Learn more about the different Areas and Suburbs of Vancouver
"Canada’s work culture is more relaxed when compared to the United States. The best tips for expats here is to be open-minded and friendly and enjoy working with your colleagues."
Read more about American expat Cyrus's experiences in Vancouver.
Are you an expat living in Vancouver?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Vancouver. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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