Competition for top tech talent in Canada is more intense than ever before.
In addition to competing for the best and brightest in their city or their province, today Canadian companies are competing against Silicon Valley giants, and other foreign multinationals, who are seeking to hire experienced talent remotely.
Members of the Council of Canadian Innovators (CCI) have consistently stressed that Canada is facing a critical shortage of skilled tech talent and this week they released their Talent & Skills Strategy.
Since founding in 2015, one of CCI’s key priorities has been to increase the availability of skilled talent for home-grown Canadian technology companies.
In response to their advocacy, the federal government created the Global Talent Stream, which has quickly become a cornerstone immigration program, allowing companies to source skilled workers from all over the world and bring them to Canada efficiently.
While this program provided a vital pressure-release valve, the skilled talent shortage has not gone away.
CCI’s new report is focused on a series of policy recommendations which broadly fall into four themes — coordination, attraction, generation, and retention.
Among the recommendations to attract talent now, CCI recommends piloting a High Potential Tech Visa, to give the most in-demand professionals a path to Canada without a job offer in hand, as well as launching a Digital Nomad Strategy to make Canada a destination for the growing ranks of remote workers.
Over the longer term CCI implores Canada to invest in the skills of the 21st century digital economy to generate more talent among our population. This could be accomplished by offering funding and support to Canadian businesses who develop up-skilling programs to train their workforce and incentivizing post-secondary institutions to develop better experiential learning opportunities to establish a talent pipeline from universities to Canadian companies.
These ideas need to be paired with a long-term approach to talent retention. Among CCI’s recommendations on how to keep skilled talent in Canada is a commitment to leaving the tax treatment of employee stock options unchanged which will give high-growth companies the certainty to recruit workers using this key compensation tool.
Read CCI’s 13 practical and tangible recommendations for federal and provincial labour, training, immigration, and economic development ministries and agencies here.