The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) report says that we are not training enough people in digital technologies which could result in Canadian firms slipping behind international rivals or hiring immigrant workers with the appropriate skillset.
This would once have been seen as an issue for the IT sector but as the use of digital technologies grows, including the fast-evolving ‘Internet of Things’, almost all industry sectors have growing demand for those with ICT skills, further exacerbating the shortage.
The report says that the problem started more than a decade ago when the dot com bubble burst and many of those who would have now been ICT professionals were dissuaded from taking that route. The number of ICT graduates dropped throughout the last decade. The ICTC says that cumulative demand will reach 182,000 skilled IT workers by 2009.
The situation is further complicated by a mix of skills that companies are demanding. While technical knowledge is vital, hiring managers also want team-players with strong interpersonal skills and those soft skills are also lacking says the report.
And if all that is not enough, there are a large number of IT specialists already heading towards retirement and the ICTC says that young Canadians are not entering the sector to fill the void. Namir Anani, the president and CEO of the ICTC commented: “Attracting youth into ICT careers to build the talent supply, in addition to better alignment of education with industry needs will be paramount in ensuring Canada’s competitive advantage in the coming years.”
For employers the message the ICTC is giving is clear; to avoid a damaging shortage of trained workers in the growing digital economy companies must focus on training their workforce and supporting on-the-job training.
Hiring employees with the rights skills is set to become tougher as an ICT skills gaps creates a shortage as Canada becomes more reliant on digital.