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, Tech Talent Canada leans on experts in the field and professionally sourced data to help keep our audience properly informed and up-to-date.
Our last Expert Wisdom roundup navigated the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on tech offices as well as the emergence of AI as it pertains to the workplace.
This month, we continue the conversation around post-pandemic hybrid work, as well as the evolving landscape of education and training.
Sewing the Seams of Hybrid Work Models
As innovations in technology and collaboration helping workers stay productive while they work from anywhere, the possibilities of a digital workspace are endless, according to the senior manager of digital workspaces at CDW Canada—but it takes a detailed plan and the right partners to achieve a more productive and secure workforce.
Hybrid work has some kinks to iron out. In an interview exclusive to TechTalent.ca, Brian Matthews of CDW noted a “significant loss in productivity.” But it’s not necessarily because humans shirk work while at home—rather, factors such as time spent troubleshooting IT issues while remote, contribute most to losses in productivity in hybrid models.
“Our Digital Workspace Survey found that more than four-in-five (83 percent) hybrid workers in Canada who experience IT issues reported losing an average of 3 hours a week troubleshooting when working from home,” Matthews said. “To break it down further, three quarters (75 percent) of respondents reported spending 1-5 hours every week troubleshooting or dealing with IT issues. That time adds up quickly and should be a concern for both employees and employers.”
Adoption of the latest tech is critical to minimizing these issues, he believes. But there are other barriers to hybrid work models, such as making sure that switching from remote work to office work is as seamless a transition as possible in all ways.
Matthews said that the vast majority of Canadian tech has “little difficulty switching work from at home to in the office.” But among companies who do experience friction in this area, major causes is the office not being a good working environment, and a nasty commute trip. Employers can at least address the first.
“Being aware of these barriers, organizations can make the transition easier for their employees,” he says.
Another big concern surrounding hybrid work pertains to cybersecurity, which is already an issue across Canada due in part to a dearth of skilled workers in the field.
“We’ve found that the rapid adoption of work from home for many of our clients has made it significantly more difficult for security teams to ensure a robust security posture,” Matthews said. “Our survey found that hybrid workers in Canada are using their personal IT devices (laptop, mobile phone, tablet) for work-related tasks, meaning they are not benefitting from the cybersecurity protection many companies offer through work devices and leaving their workplace vulnerable.”
These challenges are nuanced, he says, so “working with a third-party IT partner is the best way to be certain that your [Bring-Your-Own-Device] strategy is ready to meet the security threats of tomorrow.”
At its core, an effective hybrid work strategy is all about “attracting, retaining, and engaging top talent in an extremely competitive labour market,” according to Matthews.
It’s possible that excellent candidates may pass on jobs if a solid hybrid work model isn’t in place, he says.
“Enabling a seamless experience for hybrid workers requires investment,” Matthews notes. “Many organizations may already have the pieces in place for a mature and secure hybrid work model, they just need to put them all together.”
Upskilling as a Way of Life
Despite unprecedented immigration levels, skilled talent shortages are negatively impacting key sectors across Canada’s economy.
Part of this skills shortage is due to how quickly skills are shifting.
“The rapid integration of technologies across various industries is outpacing the human capacity to keep pace,” says Darian Kovacs, founder of Vancouver SEO firm Jelly Digital Marketing and digital marketing school Jelly Academy.
While the speed is mesmerizing, he warns that it also carries significant repercussions. If skills are going to evolve at a rapid pace over time, then we must rethink our front-loaded training methods.
“Gone are the days when a degree or diploma guaranteed a lifelong career,” Kovacs wrote for Tech Talent Canada. “We believe that embracing lifelong learning, and digital up-skilling, in particular, is a means to bridge the talent gap that keeps on growing.”
By welcoming lifelong learning, he says, individuals not only gain a competitive edge but also foster personal growth and experience heightened job satisfaction.
At the forefront of this transformative journey is digital upskilling, according to Kovacs—a concept we have discussed at great length on this platform.
“In a world driven by tech, digital upskilling encompasses diverse competencies such as digital marketing, programming, SEO, data analysis and more,” he wrote. “Digital upskilling ultimately equips individuals with the skills and tools necessary to navigate the digital terrain effectively and contribute meaningfully to their respective fields.”
Jobs that once required routine tasks are being automated, leaving a gap that demands new and evolving skills.
“There is no doubt that the disconnect between existing skills and the evolving job market has paved the way for talent shortages across industries,” he says.
By actively engaging in courses, training programs and certifications that demonstrate digital competency, job seekers will begin to meet the demands of modern employment while companies reap the rewards of a workforce with cutting-edge proficiency, according to Kovacs.
“Those who embrace upskilling not only close the skills gap but thrive within it, becoming indispensable contributors to the ever-changing world of the workforce,” he affirms.