Canada joins in the race for tech talent

More than half of tech leaders in Canada aim to expand teams in the first half of 2020.
3 January 2020

Toronto is Canada’s most advancing tech hub. Source: Shutterstock

As the artificial intelligence (AI) ecosystem in Canada continues to mature and expand, the country is implementing various approaches to attract and retain skilled tech talents. 

For instance, in June 2017, the country launched the Global Team Stream, a program that speeds up the visa application of skilled tech workers. The visa processing time is reduced from 10 months to two weeks for applicants with IT and STEM-related background.

The Canadian government announced that between the program’s launch and Jan 2019, more than 4,000 foreign workers have been hired through the program. 

However, as AI is rapidly integrated into various aspects of everyday life, the demand for AI practitioners to develop the technology is increasing as well. 

Last year, Canada reported up to 200,000 IT jobs need to be filled over the next few years and is facing a shortage of AI talent

According to new research from staffing firm Robert Half Technology, technology recruitment in Canada will rise in the first six months of 2020 but hiring remains a challenge.

The latest State of Tech Hiring research also revealed that 54 percent of IT leaders have plans to expand their teams in the next six months and are searching for candidates adept in cloud, cybersecurity, business intelligence (BI), enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation and DevOps.  

Since talent is scarce, almost all IT managers (96 percent) plan to hire interim professionals. Of those, nearly half will bring on hiring consultants as part of the overall hiring strategy and another 55 percent will seek to hire temporary staff if a role remains vacant. 

For the first half of the year, technology leaders are focused on training and upskilling current talent, attracting new talent, and retaining existing talent in the company. 

When asked to rank strategic priorities, IT managers placed the safety and security of company data as first, followed by the automation of processes to increase productivity and reduce operational costs, and lastly, digital transformation projects. 

Since technological advancements such as AI, natural language processing, and robotics are a mainstay in organizations, having the right talent and experts in the team is crucial and would be a catalyst in the organization’s digital transformation. 

The top challenge for IT leaders is to deploy an effective and flexible hiring practice that would cast a wide net to the highly mobile talent pool. In addition, hiring managers need to be agile and quick in decision making to avoid losing skilled candidates to competitors. 

“With the rising need for professionals with cybersecurity, cloud, and business intelligence skills, tech leaders need to make sure they’re providing an attractive overall package to skilled applicants,” said Deborah Bottineau, district president of Robert Half Technology. 

“In addition to offering competitive compensation and benefits, fostering a strong organizational culture that promotes professional development goes a long way for companies looking to boost recruitment and retention of in-demand IT workers,” added Bottineau. 

This holds true as the new-age workforce is not just driven by monetary value but seeks a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their jobs.

In a recent interview with TechHQMonika Dowal, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for Mondo said: “Companies that are transparent with employees and establish a clear collective purpose from the get-go will be the ones who retain Gen Z talent vs. those who do not.”