As our nation’s major technology hubs continue to grow, Canada boasts more tech workers than ever.
With so much news, data, and events to cover across the country, TechTalent.ca leans on professionals in the field to help keep our audience properly informed and up-to-date.
Our last Expert Wisdom roundup, set among mass layoffs and a shifting employment landscape, was themed “morale.”
As we navigate toward a future of opportunity, this month’s theme is “skill.”
Below, a roundup of what local experts have been saying about tech and talent in Canada recently.
Knowledge Economy Moves to Digital Realm
“Micro-credentials” have many nicknames, and come in various shapes and sizes, and are earned from all manner of different company.
A rose by any other name, they’re here to stay, because they align with the digital-forward nature of today’s tech companies and Canada’s high immigration numbers creating a pressing need for accelerated skills-building.
While there are still kinks to be sorted out, remote education and digital-based up-skilling programs have been growing for more than a decade now. When the Covid Pandemic lockdowns sent students and workers from school and the office to study and work from home, digital-based education and training became necessary and proved itself as a valuable tool in a career’s toolkit.
As Vice President of People and Culture at Redbrick, Tatham is aware that, as companies face the choice to stay remote, shift to hybrid, or bring everyone back to the office, there are pros and cons to each working style—”but ultimately it comes down to flexibility and listening to employees,” she says.
As a result, most companies will feel compelled by employee pressure to offer some degree of hybrid flexibility. Otherwise, they may risk losing out on top talent.
“The shift towards more flexible work environments, specifically remote and hybrid styles, has become prominent in a post-pandemic world,” Tatham says.
Premium tech talent can afford to make demands of their workspace, and employers are wise to relent within reason, because the labour pool is hotly contested in Canada, according to data from Hired’s annual “State of Software Engineers” report.
Besides, “It’s hard to be engaged if you’re physically uncomfortable in your environment,” Latham offers, pointing out that having an enjoyable workspace is reflected in employees’ physical and mental wellbeing.
It’s this newfound working flexibility that equally empowers remote education programs. For if one can be hired and build a career entirely from a laptop, why shouldn’t their education and ongoing training be served from the same virtual realm?
The Future of Skilling
In Canada, traditional higher education remains above average. According to Invest in Ontario, 71% of adults in the province have earned a postsecondary education—a rate above any OECD country—with Canada housing some of the world’s most reputable universities.
Canada boasts a longstanding heritage of local innovation that encourages talent to continually advance their skills and career. That in turn cultivates an ecosystem of business, from local talent launching startups to outside companies establishing footholds to reach key resources.
“Not only do we grow talent here, we also attract and retain talent,” writes Erika Lewis for TechTalent.ca. Tech hubs such as Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary are world-class in their scope and depth of solutions, activity, and talent.
Lewis is a senior communications specialist for Toronto Global, which helps international companies gain solid footing upon landing in Canada.
One recent example is American cloud computing company Snowflake, which opened its Canadian headquarters in Toronto as one of its five global engineering hubs. Snowflake entered the Canadian labour pool with “the intention of hiring hundreds of engineers,” according to Lewis, because the region is “diverse, skilled, and brimming with talent.”
These firms are tapping into what Lewis describes as a “future-proof pipeline” of tech talent.
This pipeline is partially future-proofed by a growing swath of up-skill programs offered by organizations across the country, TechTalent.ca observes.
However, few Canadians actually seem to be fully aware of just what is available to them online today, which could be blocking tomorrow’s success.
“To take advantage of this moment, it is vital we raise awareness of different paths available today to step into technology roles across industries,” believes Frank Attaie, General Manager of Technology for IBM Canada.
More than 90% Canadians are confident they can develop skills or learn something new from an online program, according to data from IBM. They just need a little guidance and awareness, Attaie suggests.
Peer Justina Nixon-Saintil agrees.
“Technology training can have a transformational effect on a person’s life,” IBM’s Chief Impact Officer stated recently. She observes “many misconceptions about what’s needed to pursue a rewarding and lucrative career in today’s rapidly advancing workplace.”
Through IBM SkillsBuild, the tech giant wants to skill 30 million people globally by 2030. And IBM is hardly alone in providing such services in 2023. Titans like Amazon, Google, and LinkedIn—as well as smaller Canadian organizations such as Uvaro, Palette Skills, and Le Wagon—all offer online programs designed to train talent in tech.
In partnership with Palette Skills, to cite a recent example, the Government of Canada announced a $250 million program to support short-cycle upskilling programs driven by industry needs in high-growth sectors.
Notably, this “Upskilling for Industry Initiative“ reaches outside of the knowledge economy to leverage a cross-Canada network industry, employers, institutions and private training providers in order to deliver upskilling programs.
“Canada’s labour market is facing significant challenges—but … we will enable firms to meet their changing workforce needs and secure skilled talent,” stated Janet Yale, Chair of Palette Skills’ Board of Directors, alongside the announcement in February. “We will ensure that workers across Canada have the opportunity to secure employment in high growth sectors of the economy through increased access to industry-driven upskilling.”
Everything is Tech (And Talent)
Palette’s collaboration with the federal government targeting industry is one of many examples of technology blurring formerly distinct lines between business genres in Canada and beyond.
“Every company is a tech company” is now a popular riff among techies and marketers.
Does this mean that every industry now a tech industry?
Gordon Pelosse, senior vice president for employer engagement at the Computing Technology Industry Association, affirms that, at a minimum, “technology is [essential] to every business and industry.” Which is a pretty big deal, if you really think about it.
This in turn means that tech skills are essential everywhere. Tech talent is therefore always in demand, and the demand scales with skill.
“Employment options in technology are plentiful at all careers levels, from advanced positions for individuals with experience under their belts to entry-level openings that offer good salaries and opportunities for advancement,” Pelosse posited.
The talent on top, of course, already knows all of this. Those beneath should peruse our free Tech Talent Canada Job Board for a sampling of opportunities, skilling up as necessary to land a dream gig.
It is perhaps more efficient than ever to secure the skills needed to land employment or upgrade a career—at any rate, there are more paths to take, which opens opportunity for all.