HR Study 2010

> HR Trends and Issues

Digital Media - Highlights

Purchase all three documents that make up HR Study 2010 in a printable electronic format

The HR Study 2010 package contains: HR Trends and Issues, Labour Market Information for Canada's Cultural Sector and The Effect of the Global Economic Recession on Canada's Creative Economy in 2009.

Fast Facts

The real value added output (GDP) of the interactive digital media domain in 2009 was estimated to be $2.4 billion.
Canadian consumer spending on interactive digital media was $1.5 billion in 2008.
In the interactive digital media subsector, there were 7,424 establishments registered in 2009, four of which were large, 37 of which were medium-sized, 379 of which were small and 2,539 of which were micro-sized.

Major issues

The need to adapt to new markets, technological changes and intellectual property are top issues for the digital media subsector.

Business Models

Considerable financial investment and human resource costs are necessary in order to create certain forms of high-end digital media. The challenge for the subsector will be to find and leverage viable business opportunities. Traditional types of commercialization chains, such as supplier to producer to consumer, may not be relevant or efficient for the digital media field. Instead, those working in the digital media subsector are able to commercialize their creative energies using new value chains which may cut out traditional industry players.

The Global Environment

The need to think and act globally has positive and negative repercussions: there are opportunities to develop new business partnerships between countries but companies must battle internationally to attract and retain talent.

Skills Needs

Attracting and recruiting workers with the right skills at the right time is an ongoing challenge in the subsector. Digital media companies recognize the critical importance of technical skills in developing and delivering cutting edge products, but sometimes overlook the need for other skills such as marketing and administrative skills. Increasingly, there is demand in the digital media area for individuals with both technical and business skills.

There are often shortages of high-demand "hot skills" that are associated with higher revenue products and services (e.g., many current "hot-skills" support gaming creation such as 3-D modeling, scripting and texturing). Continuous learning is required to keep current with, and be able to apply, the latest technological developments.

A lack of managerial skills is of particular concern within the growing subsector. Given the newness of the subsector, there is a shortage of experienced digital media managers in Canada. The need for managerial skills development was among the top employer issues for digital media.

ICE skills: Success in the subsector requires a combination of skills to enable innovation, creativity, and enterprise (the "ICE" skills set). It is rare to find an individual with the ICE skills set, however. Instead, companies tend to bring together individuals with different skill sets and then manage their collective effectiveness.

Intellectual Property

Companies in the digital media subsector face challenges relating to the protection of intellectual property (IP) rights, particularly in light of the relative ease with which digital content may be duplicated and redistributed. In digital media, intellectual property rights are critically important and companies treat IP as their basis of future revenues.

Compensation and Working Conditions

Unstable and insufficient earnings, and long hours and risk of burnout are top issues for workers. In many larger digital media companies work is often conducted in an assembly line fashion.


  1. Identify and address intellectual property concerns as they affect human resources, as technologies emerge and needs change.

  2. Increase management training in areas of export development, marketing and business affairs regarding complex contracts.

  3. Promote and support collaboration among employers and educational institutions to identify and address skills gaps.

  4. Undertake compensation surveys of workers in the digital media industry.

  5. Ensure that training in digital technology is always current and relevant to the needs of employers, given the speed at which technology evolves.

  6. Analyze human resource needs in terms of technology skills and creative skills.

  7. Support and encourage on-the-job training and mentorship opportunities with clear expectations and outcomes.