It’s been known for quite a few years now that Canada faces a serious shortage of technical talent to fill the gap in the technology sector. As the industry continues to grow with new startups popping up all the time, there’s a huge shortage in skills like web development and software engineering.
Companies are in dire need to find qualified personnel who can develop these technologies and help them scale. Further, overall competitiveness is still an issue because of the lack of technological advancements and new investments. But that’s all slowly changing with global politics and local government policies that can have a massive impact on the sector.
According to the IT labor market report, Canada will need to fill approximately 182,000 tech jobs by 2019. That’s a massive number, but it’s great that steps have already been taken by the government to try and tackle this emerging issue (before it’s too late).
So what’s happening on the ground?
1. Training a New Generation of Youth
Although it’s not an immediate solution, common skills shortages are now being addressed by training a new generation of youth to become the next information and communications technology (ICT) professionals.
This is a step in the right direction as you can’t keep looking overseas to fill the skills gap. It has to be filled from within (at some point anyway). This along with efforts to enhance academic standards and up-skill current workers is a great move. But in the immediate future, looking beyond Canadian shores is the way forward.
However, this alone won’t be enough as coding and technical training should start during primary and secondary school years (to develop an interest in the field). Further, post-secondary co-operative educational opportunities should also be offered within the IT sector.
2. Access International Talent
Looking to the rest of the world to find the best talent in nothing new, but efforts need to be stepped up this year. Hence the government has also made it easier to enable skilled migration.
Having a robust immigrant worker program will go a long way to provide services not otherwise available and also improve overall productivity.
Further, U.S. President Trump overhaul of immigration opportunities has also created a unique situation where the best non-American talent can be attracted further north. With cities like Vancouver and Waterloo being home to thriving startup hubs, it’s not going to be that difficult to tempt them away to a healthier political climate.
3. Start Building Efficient Distributed Teams
A cost-effective option is also available as you can build teams comprised of highly skilled and efficient remote workers. There is a high concentration of highly skilled individuals from South Asia and East Europe, so it will be pretty easy to get them on board and manage development projects with tools lick Slack and Teamwork.
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At the moment, the hottest in-demand IT jobs in the country are as follows:
- Software Developers
- Information Security Analyst
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Computer User Support Specialists
- Database Administrator
So it’s really not going to be difficult to manage a distributed team filling these positions. But you just have to plan and manage it a way that gets the best out of the team members.
With all the attention the pending skills shortage is getting from the media, there may not be a deficit at all in a few years. With the temporary suspension of the U.S. H1-B visa (premium processing) program and the so-called “Muslim ban” creating havoc south of the border, the attention on the Canadian tech sector has increased dramatically.
On top of that, you have the government’s positive attitude toward tackling these issues and encouraging skilled migration. So you can say that it has all the right ingredients to help avoid the impending skills shortage in the technology sector.
But you can’t take anything for granted these days as 2016 taught us that the unexpected can happen more than once. So the best option for Canadian tech is to continue to prepare while exploring all available options.