Innovation, productivity, inbound investment and global competitiveness across our economy depend on the quality, breadth and adaptability of Canada’s tech talent. People with the right tech skills create their own opportunities and are a magnet for international investment.
On May 10, the CBC shared a report out of Newfoundland and Labrador, that speaks to a talent shortage in Newfoundland and Labrador. The article states that “tech is growing fast in Newfoundland and Labrador. According to industry group NATI, there are 3,990 people in this province working in tech and the sector generates $1.6 billion in revenue annually…. Despite this province’s high unemployment rate (11.5 per cent in March) …will almost certainly have to recruit outside of [the province].”
ITAC’s role in addressing this issue
ITAC’s vision is to grow Canada’s highly qualified, diverse tech talent force, well beyond projected demand to maximize growth, innovation and competitive leadership. A winning plan for Canada is to train and employ a high share of our workforce in advanced tech-based products and services of all kinds, and to digitally supercharge every sector of our economy. As a marquee objective, ITAC has called on the Government of Canada to provide public leadership in growing the country’s highly qualified professional (HQP) ICT workforce, across all sectors of the economy, from 550,000 in 2018 to 750,000 by 2025. ITAC is actively working to help achieve this workforce development goal.
Today, fewer than half of high school students graduate with senior STEAM courses despite the fact that 70 per cent of Canada’s top jobs require this type of education[i]. ITAC spreads the word about ICT careers through its award winning CareerMash program, focused on high school students.
Strengthening Post-Secondary Education
ITAC also assists in strengthening post-secondary general and professional programs in all fields to include ICT proficiency. The ITAC Business Technology Management (BTM) program was created in 2010 and has increased enrollments in BTM post-secondary programs five-fold since its launch.
In 2017, ITAC started its Career Ready Work Integrated Learning (WIL) program, where in partnership with the Government of Canada, it has placed over 500 students with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Canada, providing much needed resources to SME’s to help expand their workforce.
Addressing High-Demand Talent Areas
ITAC has formed the Cybersecurity Talent Alliance (CTA). The CTA purpose is to energize and promote a collaborative network, and provide a partner ecosystem for cybersecurity education, training and workforce development. A large AI talent outreach and awareness campaign will be launched later this year.
Upskilling and Re-Skilling Professionals
Demands for both tech skills and professional skills are shifting in the digital marketplace. This shift has created a disconnect between what skills employers require in entry-level positions, and what skills post-secondary grads currently have. ITAC, in partnership with Ryerson University Diversity Institute, has launched the Developing Digital Competencies Program, which is focused on developing digital skills complementing the wide range of approaches available through post-secondary institutions, private training organizations as well as online programs. The program will provide alternative pathways into ICT roles for graduates from non-STEM backgrounds, as well as internationally educated professionals and high potential workers without traditional credentials.
Other Ways to Help Fill the Talent Gap
We are missing half of the talent pool. Hiring women, new immigrants, Indigenous Peoples and persons with disabilities can help. Did you know…
- Women’s participation in ICT professions has remained consistent around 25 per cent for more than 10 years. In 2015, only 21 per cent of all ICT graduates across Canada were women.
- Of the total number of workers presently employed in ICT occupations, only 40 per cent are immigrants.
- According to Statistics Canada both enrollment and graduation rates for Indigenous peoples in ICT is approximately three per cent. Among those that pursue post-secondary education, only approximately three per cent go into ICT and 3.7 per cent go into STEM.
- A Statistics Canada’s national survey of IT Occupations found that only 1.5 per cent of all people working across 24 IT occupations in Canada identified themselves as a person with a disability.
Canada needs to do better. ITAC is doing is part. If you’d like to learn more about ITAC or ITAC Talent, please contact Gina van Dalen, Executive Director, ITAC Talent at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[i] Let’s Talk Science, October 2016 Release