David Cowan never imagined himself working the night shift at McDonald’s. Despite a university degree and training in geology, marine geomatics and remote sensing, the Halifax native struggled for years to break out of the contract work cycle. At the age of 53, David found himself working the drive-through alongside teenagers.
David’s story is not an unfamiliar one. And, the pandemic has only accentuated the situation for many Canadians like David who are out of work, stuck in a contract work cycle, or who forced by circumstances to consider a career change.
According to Statistics Canada, the Canadian economy lost 207,100 jobs in April 2020 as a spike in COVID-19 variant cases led to renewed public health restrictions. The services sector lost 195,400 jobs, while the goods-producing sector lost 11,800.
Gabriela Love, a Vancouver-based flight attendant and podcaster also had their career wings clipped. The pandemic hit airlines very hard. Flights were grounded and crews were laid off. Gabriela found themselves out of work, unsure of their future career direction with financial resources running low.
Like Gabriela, Toronto bartender Matt Fairbanks worked in the hospitality industry, a sector that was decimated by the pandemic. Matt watched in dismay as staff numbers in his workplace fell from 500+ to 15 people overnight.
At the same time, tech employers across Canada and the US are crying out for talent, especially in sales roles. According to Uvaro’s online sales job board, there are 108,000 open sales jobs in Canada and 580,000 open sales roles in North America. With a vast number of these jobs remote, employers are ready and willing to source talent from anywhere.
However, even if they are lucky to fill an open role, tech companies aren’t having an easy time with it. On average it takes 45 days for a hiring company to find a new salesperson, and eight months to train them in their role. Even then, only 58% of new sales hires meet their quota. And the costs of a bad hire quickly add up. When one considers hiring time, lost productivity and recruitment cost, a single bad hire can cost a business $26,000. Add in lost revenue from poor sales performance and the cost to the business can approach $350,000.
Part of the problem is that there is no real training ground for tech sales pros, explains Joseph Fung, CEO of Uvaro.
Fung, a serial entrepreneur with a few startups under his belt, saw this problem first hand when hiring salespeople for his teams. “Only 2% of colleges or universities today offer formal sales education. They simply can’t graduate people in sufficient quantities to meet demand. So, most salespeople learn on the job and employers have come to expect a long learning curve.”
Furthermore, re-training programs delivered through traditional educational institutions require an upfront tuition expenditure and an extensive time commitment, which is often out of reach for people who are making midlife career changes like David, Gabriela and Matt.
The secret, says Fung, is to fill this gap with private training programs that combine training and coaching with job placement.
In the case of Uvaro, tuition is deferred until the individual completes the training and lands a job. This solves two problems. It lowers the barrier to entry for people looking to change their careers and enter the tech industry, and it gives employers a steady supply of trained, work-ready talent.
“Everyone wins. Job seekers land lucrative five-figure salaries without having to invest time and money in costly retraining. And employers are delighted to have a strong pipeline of purpose-trained talent,” says Fung.
David, Gabriela and Matt all found their way to Uvaro’s online tech sales training academy through a simple google search. Gabriela was looking to find their way into the technology industry, David was looking for a job where he could work remotely, and Matt was eager to transfer his bartending “people” skills into a higher-paying job.
Immediately upon graduating from Uvaro, the three landed full-time, remote jobs with tech companies. Gabriela is working as a business development rep (BDR) at a Vancouver-based tech company specializing in disability, David is working as a sales development rep (SDR) at Easy Projects in Toronto, and continues to live in Halifax and Matt, who styles himself as a “bartender of SaaS,” landed a role as a BDR at 7Shifts: Restaurant Scheduling and has since been promoted to Client Success Manager (CSM).
“Throughout the pandemic, the tech industry has continued to hire with gusto,” says Joseph Fung. “It also has very quickly adapted and evolved to embrace a remote style of working. That opens up a huge opportunity for Canadians from diverse backgrounds to make the move into tech, trade up in terms of work lifestyle and salary and work for any company — even the biggest tech brand names, regardless of their location. Our mission is to remove as many barriers as we can for those individuals looking to make a career change and to help tech employers recognize that there is a huge and highly capable workforce available to them if they only choose to see it.