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Tech Skills Gap 101

[endif]--[endif]--I had the privilege of leading a panel discussion at the fall Telecom 2015 Conference on ‘The Future of Work – The intersection of work, technology and people’. Joining me on the panel were Ken Cowman, Managing Director,; Mike Fox, President, Brightlights Inc., Roberta J. Fox, Chairman, FOXGROUP Technology; Valerie Gelinas, Senior Manager, Early Talent, Royal Bank Canada and Sandra Saric, VP Talent Innovation at ICTC. The panel explored the future of work from a variety of context including the latest research and business trends.

Key insights from the Information Communication Technology Council (ICTC), Labour Market Outlook 2015 – 2019 really stood out. Canada faces a growing gap between the demand and the supply of ICT talent and skills. In addition the report emphasizes the growing demand for high-level cognitive and business skills such as critical thinking, interpersonal communications and self-management and the ability to learn. Gone are the days when developers can sit in a corner and code all day!

According to ICTC, “The availability of ICT talent will not be sufficient to meet the hiring requirements over the next five years. There is also a continued concern of skills mismatch.”

What do we mean by Skills Gap?

The skills gap is composed of two sources: 1) Skills Shortages (i.e. not enough people at a particular level of education or in the right field of study) and 2) Skills Mismatch (i.e. whether educated or not workers lack the skills to fill the position.)

What has caused this skills gap?

According to ICTC, which is a government-funded labor market intelligence and industry skills standard body, skills mismatch, demand and supply imbalances and an aging workforce cause the gap (i.e. the baby boomers are retiring). In fact this appears to be a worldwide challenge.

In 2012 UNESCO looked at the ‘Skills Gap Throughout the World’ and after analyzing 120 employer surveys from developed and developing countries concluded that ‘CEO’s from around the world consider skills gaps one of their top five pressing concerns.”

A 2014 CareerBuilder study, conducted by Harris Poll with a representative sample of 1,025 employers, 1,524 job seekers and 205 academics across the U.S., listed a variety of things as impacting the skills gap – education gap with the system not producing enough grad’s in areas where there are jobs, gaps in expectations around wages, job requirements that were above entry requirements and new/shifting technologies.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers’s 2015 Global CEO survey found that three-quarters of 1,322 responding CEOs in 77 countries say that the skills shortage is the biggest threat to their business.

One reality that seems to be consistent through all of these reports is the fact that employers are no longer willing to train new employees and that corporate spending on training has been in steady decline for the past two decades. In 1993 Ontario employers were spending an average of $1,200 on training and development per employee. In 2010 that number had dropped to $700. Canada is also near the bottom of the pack when it comes to adult participation in non-formal job-related training according to the Conference Board of Canada.

How big will the tech gap be?

Today there are 811,200 ICT professionals currently employed in Canada. By 2019 the cumulative hiring requirement for ICT talent is expected to reach 182,000. The ICTC report goes on to say that the availability of talent will not be sufficient to meet these hiring requirements. Demand and supply variances will affect all provinces.

31% of surveyed employers face difficulty and/or delay in filling ICT positions due to lack of suitable talent. Source ICTC Digital Adoption Compass

Does this mean that everyone looking for a tech job will find one?

The answer to this question is unfortunately, ‘no’. There will be ‘jobs without people’ and ‘people without jobs’. This is where the mismatch between candidate skills and job requirements comes in. This situation is however compounded by the impending ‘skills shortage’ due to the retirement of baby boomers. The ICTC Labour Market Outlook ‘Roadmap for the Future’ goes on to recommend that the focus needs to shift to ‘right skilling’ of the workforce. A link to the report highlights has been included below.

What tech jobs do they forecast will be in demand?

  • According to ICTC high demand occupations include:

  • Information systems analysts and consultants

  • Computer and network operators and web technicians

  • Computer programmers and interactive media developers

  • Software engineers Graphic designers and illustrators

  • Computer and information systems managers

  • Database analysts and data administrators

The end of Part 1: Watch for Part 11



ICTC Labour Market Report 2015-2019.

UNESCO ‘Skills Gaps Throughout the World’.

Careerbuilder: The Shocking Truth about the Skills Gap.

Conference Board of Canada, 2014 Study.

ICTC Labour Market Report 2015-2019.


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