Alberta economy at risk from tech talent gap

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Canadian companies are expected to hire 17,000 information and technology workers over the next five years, but companies in Alberta are struggling to find highly skilled IT candidates.

"We're already starting to see the impact of a skilled IT worker shortage here in Alberta," said Jonathan Nituch, vice president of operations at Fortress Technology Planners. "Not enough Albertans are choosing Information Technology as a career path, which is leaving unfilled employment opportunities that are critical to economic growth."

With 15,000 direct and indirect workers, the ICT sector accounts for 15% of Alberta’s GDP, making it the third largest sector, behind energy and agriculture.

According to a recent survey commissioned by DeVry Institute of Technology, 86% of Albertans believe that a shortage of technology workers would have a negative effect on Alberta's overall labour market and economy.   Such an impact could jeopardize the province's employment rate, which continues to be highest in the country.

As the Information Technology sector continues to grow in Alberta, so does the need for programs that produce highly skilled workers for related positions. According to the survey, two out of three Albertans feel there is a need to increase access to technology programs at Alberta's post-secondary institutions. Some 95% said  Alberta needs to increase the number of trained and educated workers in the technology sector.

"The projected inability for Alberta to meet demand for IT professionals across industries presents a formidable challenge," said Ranil Herath, president of DeVry Institute of Technology. "The public and private sectors must work together to increase access to the kinds of educational programs that will ensure Alberta doesn't fall behind in our pursuit of an aptly-trained workforce."

The school hopes a new scholarship worth up to $15,300 for tech focused bachelor degrees will help boost numbers.  Supplementing the offerings from public schools, DeVry recently made technology-focused bachelor degree programs more accessible with a new bursary.

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