President’s Message – Q3/2017
THE DEMAND FOR ICT TALENT
In the last newsletter I wrote about how one Computer Science professor influenced my career path in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry. Check it out here. In this follow-up article, I am featuring the high demand for ICT workers and how to fill the supply gap.
I am just as excited about the ICT industry today as I was back in my college and university days, especially here in British Columbia. Why am I excited, you ask? Well, how about this:
- The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), a not-for-profit national centre of expertise for the Canadian digital economy, released a report in April 2017 entitled The Next Talent Wave: Navigating the Digital Shift – Outlook 2021 which states that by 2021, an additional 216,000 ICT positions will need to be filled in Canada.
- In late July, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated it expects Canada to lead the G7 for economic growth this year, forecasting a 2.5 percent growth in 2017.
- In May, the Conference Board of Canada predicted that the three western provinces will lead Canada in economic growth in 2017, with Alberta expected to grow its GDP by 3.3 percent, and British Columbia and Saskatchewan at 2.5 percent.
- Vancouver is ranked #13 in Expert Market’s list of the world’s best tech hubs thanks in part to its first class education system.
- Vancouver is Canada’s top startup city and ranked #15 globally according to the 2017 Global Startup Ecosystem Report. As you might have guessed, many of Vancouver’s startups are in the ICT sector.
So, to recap, the Canadian and British Columbia economies are strong, but there is a shortage of talented ICT professionals to meet the demand. If we think demand is high now, consider the following:
- In August, Amazon signed a lease for 147,000 square feet of office space in Vancouver, bringing its total office space in the city to nearly 900,000 square feet. The new space will accommodate an additional 800 to 1000 employees in Vancouver.
- In September, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s President and Chief Legal Officer, said that the company thinks of Vancouver as its second home. Microsoft employs 800 people in Vancouver and Smith said he sees opportunities to grow in the city and doesn’t see a cap to the number of jobs the company could create there.
- In September, Fortinet announced it will create 1,000 new tech jobs in Vancouver in its new state-of-the-art data centre.
These are just three companies bullish on Vancouver and there are many more hiring people on a smaller scale. For example, I am working with the CEO of a San Francisco-based software product company who is opening an R&D office in Vancouver. Junior developers in the Bay area fresh out of university are being paid a salary of $100,000USD. Senior developers are making $200,000USD or more. We figured that if he hires a dozen people in Vancouver including junior, intermediate and senior developers (e.g., four of each), he would save approximately $1,000,000CAD per year. But he said that lower salaries is not the main reason he is opening a Vancouver office. He said senior developers in Vancouver are not only very talented, but they are nicer and don’t have the “elitist attitude” of Bay area developers. He also said he loves the city. In fact, he loves it so much, he expects to relocate to Vancouver permanently.
So we appear to have a perfect storm in Vancouver – strong economy, great tech hub and startup environment, high demand for IT professionals, but a shortage of talent, particularly senior software developers, business analysts, cloud architects, and other senior technology specialists. By the way, the IT talent shortage exists across North America, not just in Vancouver. So what can we do?
First, we need to grow our ICT talent locally. Coding is now a requirement for all school kids in grade one to twelve. I love it. In terms of post-secondary learning, British Columbia has a world class education system. We need to create more spaces for students in Computer Science, Computer Engineering and related programs at our universities.
Second, all of us need to be advocates for the ICT industry. I have presented to students in universities, colleges, high schools and even elementary schools to encourage young people to consider careers in STEM, particularly young women because females represent only 25 percent of the Canadian ICT industry. Men, it is up to us to mentor young women in the ICT industry because there are not enough female mentors to go around. Young adults who are not satisfied with their careers can be coached to enroll in coding camps to determine if they enjoy software development.
Third, we need more immigration reform. The issue is that we are not producing enough ICT people across Canada to meet the demand. To solve this problem, we need to welcome ICT specialists from other countries. Canada has less stringent immigration policies than the US which has helped us to attract smart people from around the world. This has not gone unnoticed by Microsoft, Amazon, Sanyo, Sony, Tableau, and many other big name tech organizations that have opened offices in Vancouver. We need to keep refining our immigration process so that Canada can compete globally in technology and innovation.
These things take time. In the meantime, we have an immediate supply issue. If you know talented ICT professionals, refer them to Annex and we will help them upgrade their job and boost their career. If we don’t already know them, you will be entitled to a passive income from our award-winning Referral Program which has been featured in books, magazines and daily newspapers across Canada. We have paid out more than $2 million in referral fees in the last decade and anyone is eligible to participate in the program.
Finally, if you are as excited about the ICT industry as I am, then consider joining me at Annex. We are currently hiring in BC, Alberta and Ontario. Every day we make connections between our clients and ICT professionals that not only help to address the talent shortage, but also change the lives of these people and improve the world we live in. The future is bright.
Stacey is President and CEO of Annex where the future is bright indeed. In fact, Stacey’s personal motto for the last 25 years has been “The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades!” Reach out to Stacey if you need to hire ICT employees or contractors in your organization, if you are interested in joining the Annex team, or if you wish to earn a passive income by referring highly talented ICT professionals to Annex.