FREDERICTON - IBM will create 100 new full-time cybersecurity jobs, each subsidized with $12,000 from the New Brunswick government, as the province finds a flicker of hope amid steep job losses and red ink.
Company officials and Premier Brian Gallant made the announcement Wednesday in Fredericton, as the government continues its push for information technology jobs, with emphasis on cybersecurity.
"IBM is an incredible international business with approximately 400,000 employees around the world," Gallant told a news conference at the University of New Brunswick.
"We are talking about an important player globally which I think brings an interesting perspective and the potential for growth for New Brunswick."
The premier met with IBM and other companies this month at a cybersecurity conference in San Francisco and also at the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland, and said the Fredericton area is already a "centre of excellence" for cybersecurity.
Eddie Campbell, the president of UNB, said New Brunswick is well positioned to capitalize on the growing industry.
"Imagine a day when we have companies from all over the world who are attracted by the talent base that we have here in New Brunswick coming here to work with us to build opportunities like this one, week after week. That is an achievable future for us," he said.
The new jobs will pay an average salary of $75,000 per year, and the province is paying IBM $12,000 per job as a payroll rebate, for a total of $1.2 million. Gallant said the government needs to provide incentives when it is competing for jobs with other provinces and states.
Rick Doucet, the minister responsible for Opportunities New Brunswick, said it's a small investment when you consider each of the new employees will be paying taxes, as well as paying rents or buying homes.
David Murrell, an economics professor at UNB, said any job announcements should be seen as good news. However, Murrell said he remains pessimistic about the provincial economy.
"Not only do we need the high-technology industries, we need the traditional sector jobs as well. That's what I call a balanced economy when both sides are doing well," he said.
Employment in New Brunswick shrank for the second year in a row in 2015. This January, the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan announced it would close its Picadilly mine in Sussex, N.B., eliminating more than 400 well-paying jobs.
The provincial budget in February announced the elimination of 1,300 civil service jobs over five years. The province hasn't had a balanced budget since 2007-08.
Still, Doucet said there's reason to remain positive for the future.
"There will be a handful of these kinds of job creation announcements happening very soon," he said.
IBM has scheduled another job announcement Thursday in Saint John.
In 2011, IBM bought Q1 Labs, whose QRadar Security Intelligence Platform was developed in partnership with the University of New Brunswick.
IBM maintains a research development and customer support centre in Fredericton.
David Drury, IBM Canada's general manager of global technology services, said cybercrime is the current-day equivalent of organized crime.
"Eighty per cent of cyber security attacks today are driven by well established crime rings and this has turned into one of the largest illegal economies in the world with over $445 billion of illegal profit annually through cyber security crimes," he said.
Drury said there is a global shortage of one-million employees to work in the cyber security field.