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Vancouver is one of Canada’s largest industrial centres and it attracts expats from all over the world. The traditional industries in British Columbia are forestry, mining, agriculture and fishing, but Vancouver has also developed a widespread service sector, highly advanced biotechnology and software industries, and a film industry that has become a big earner for the city.
Job market in Vancouver
The city's location, coupled with its port being one of the busiest in the world, make it a global hub of activity and business opportunities. Highly-qualified expats looking to work in Vancouver, and those with the right experience, are likely to find vacancies in their chosen fields.
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, more than a million people pass through Vancouver to take advantage of its natural wonders and to access Alaska on scheduled cruises. Vancouver's film industry is a also big earner for the city. It's the third largest film and production centre in North America and is another sector in which job opportunities abound.
That said, it can be difficult to find a job as an expat in Vancouver. The city has a wide talent pool and highly qualified local workers, so competition can be fierce. But there are certain industries, such as the tech and hospitality sectors, where a shortage of talent has forced employers to look abroad for qualified workers to fill the gaps.
Finding a job in Vancouver
There are some social programmes that place prospective workers, but these are usually for student or entry-level jobs. There are also a number of job-related websites that assist expats looking for positions in Vancouver, while social networks such as LinkedIn are valuable resources too.
Unless expats have a permanent residence visa, they’ll need to apply for a work permit once they’ve received a job offer. 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 assist with this process.
Work culture in Vancouver
Vancouver is a highly cosmopolitan city with open-minded and tolerant locals, 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 strict timekeeping, 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 than 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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