Worldwide Geekonomics and Immigration

So as I noted yesterday at GDC, part of what intrigued me was aggressive recruiting by groups employed by or part of their nation's governments to recruit gaming talent and companies.  I mentioned the Canadian group, the Scottish group, and others.  All were quite nice people, and many got a kick out of the fact that I actually tracked economic issues, and I had some great conversations. 

I'm such an econogeek I actually had a discussion of the possibilities of Scotland using the pitch of dual urban-rural lifestyles to attract young talent, and had a discussion of Canadian entrepreneurship with the Canadian contingent (it's quite an entrepreneurial country).

This and recents article by Richard Florida on changing immigration had me thinking:

Florida notes that there's a drop in tech/science immigrants (temp or perm) in the US, while other countries pursue aggressive recruting strategies, including recruiting within the US.  With cultural and political issues and geographic polarization, it's easier for mobile talent to go elsewhwere.

Many countries pursue dynamic, strategic plans to get talented individuals – and keep them.  In short, other countries are building their geekonomies, and are doing so with careful planning and focused intent that any large policy would require.

To give you an example with Canada.  Canada has pro-immigration commercials running within its borders.  It has websites on relocation and immigration for work, with scoring systems and advice for potential workers.  It has teams that go to places like GDC to pitch the advantages of the country, even hiring people within other countries to do recruiting.  Toronto and Ontario aggressively target the gaming industry and IT as the city and province shift from manufacturing.

How effective?  I know and have met Canadian recruiters, and they are aware of the demographics of their targets, down to age and profession, currency conversion and lifestyle costs and more.

That's one country – one country I largely know about as I do cons there and have friends there.  Canada is not alone in seeking the geek talent and geek industries.

This has serious implications for the geekonomy in America – because countries are pursuing strategies for building their IT, media, and science businesses and are pursuing it.  They're getting immigrants that would otherwise come to America, and are recruiting here.

For young people in America, who are eager to travel, have less roots, and are stuck in a lousy economy, a few years in Canada, or Scotland, or Australia may sound pretty good to them.  To older people who worry about employ-ability, countries that appreciate senior level skill may lure them to start over.

Career-wise, you're going to need to be aware of this.  The company you're interested in may move – or may open an office in another country.  The people you want to recruit may be leaving or harder to get.  You yourself may have to ask if it's time to get a visa and see what's out there.

Economically, America and other countries not paying attention to this factor will need to.  The progeeks, scientists, programmers, and more are the future of industrialized nations and their businesses.  Where they go and set up shop – and where they don't go – will affect the fate of those countries.

The Geekonomy is global, and is changing.  Be aware.

– Steven Savage