Toronto – ICT Skills Shortage and Declining Interest in ICT Careers

Main Discussion Points:

  • Tech companies should help educational institutions keep current as many have hardware/software that is years old

    • Students already outdated when they graduate since they are taught using outdated products

  • Geek image needs to be changed and those in IT are not helping

  • Mentoring programs for those in IT need to be expanded to help folks stay current and relevant


Group #1

  • Need for SharePoint skills

  • Lack of skills in the head-hunter group and HR people at the companies – don’t understand what the real needs are, don’t understand important technology skills vs. transferable skills

  • Communication and language skills are issues in finding good people

  • Résumés – write CVs for the job requirements, not just the skills you have

  • Certifications have value but new entrants into the field need realistic expectations about working conditions of any new jobs while they prove themselves (e.g. may result in entry level, lower pay, shift work, moving tapes around, etc. etc.)

  • Off-shoring is an issue; perceptions make ICT seem a less attractive career with no local opportunities

  • Students not choosing the ICT field

    • What is an ICT person?

    • No clear career progression for an ICT person

    • Still a young industry, in flux

    • Parents not encouraging ICT choice

NOTE -- mini-survey -- the participating group only showed three hands when asked if they were encouraging their children to enter the ICT field; i.e. most people in this group would not direct their children to ICT careers

  • Would like to see more use of co-ops and more apprenticeships through on-the-job training

  • Would encourage more ongoing training and skills upgrades while on the job

  • ICT industry is ungrateful – students see relatives being treated badly

    • Companies treating people as ‘resources’, in and out, and not as ‘people’

  • Dramatic ICT changes / extreme rate of change

  • Pressures on families; is this a profession for younger people?

    • Differences in being able to meet employers’ demands when younger without family vs. people slightly older with spouses and children

    • Different / additional stresses

  • Is the overall résumé process for ICT workers good and working, or is some other process needed?

    • Are recruiting practices too focused on computers to do the searches?

      • Reality of job search is that keywords are needed for the overall purpose of searching through massive numbers of résumés, at least for the initial selection

      • Importance of resumes and keywords when having to filter through 300+ résumés

      • Does the focus on keywords really make for an effective selection or does it encourage misdirected erroneous résumés?

    • Should there be more practical testing of recruits vs. simply word of mouth from references and acceptance of years of experience?

    • Is there a good balance of focus on actual ability vs. years of experience?

    • Career sites – more for candidates or recruiters?

  • So many choices now

    • What does ICT really mean now?

  • Compared to some other professions, there is a clear lack of positive public recognition / appreciation for ICT professionals

  • Fight lack of interest:

    • Businesses need to make jobs more attractive over a longer time

    • Focus on specific, targeted, relevant courses or training

    • Use of co-op students

    • Retrain / recycle people internally



Group #2:


Generally, those in the discussion said the following:

  • jobs are not widely advertised - positions require a higher skills set then a job may really need which makes it harder to replace the people doing the jobs

  • how companies are handling employees tends to box employees into a job at their workplace and may not allow employees to move to other opportunities or allow employees time away for education to keep current or to qualify for other jobs

  • IT pro should become a manager of their career and have more say define their role more in the company and ensure they have opportunities for advancement and skills upgrades

  • new employees may get positions over the existing staff because of inability for companies to want to train the existing employee and then hire another employee for the old employee's job.

  • there is a decline in interest in programming, schools are not able to keep up with the technology requirements of the students and industry so students lose interest in programs the quickly become dated


What can we do?

  • open ministry guidelines to allow vendors to have more input into how programs are designed or offered - third party vendors should be able to sponsor programs that provide training on their products through the school system

  • there should be more advanced type courses (not university degree courses) that focus on getting the advanced skills that mature IT Pros should qualify for (things like architecture etc.)

  • provide training to "underlings" - the person who has the desire, however maybe not the experience

  • senior techs should be given opportunities to mentor those into bringing people and keeping people into the field

  • encourage women and other minorities and provide more support for new Canadians coming into the country with the current education from their country

  • encourage companies to hire new grads and provide opportunities for mentoring and growing rather than require employees to have way more education and skill and expertise than may ever be used on the job

  • be more realistic in their needs - provide technology mentoring to small and mid size companies so they can get a better handle on their it staff needs

  • find a better way to get people the skills and experience they need to get the current jobs

  • have more university and college co-op programs that are not just for new students

  • should be a universal co-op system that allows people new in the country to get opportunities

  • businesses need to recognize the reality of their needs and change the job descriptions accordingly, businesses also need to recognize what IT brings to business and what business brings to IT

  • focus co-op jobs on real skills (example was a coop student was asked to go from desk to desk to collect information on where the different projects were - it had nothing to do with their programming education  and was not a real skill building position)

  • large tech companies can help fund liaison programs (not sure what they meant exactly as there were about ten discussion happening at this point)

  • bring in apprenticeship programs for it that way we don't have the problem of co op students being the only people getting jobs for experience

  • schools (colleges and universities) should demand the certifications for courses stay current and they should ensure their own curriculum is up to date and always current

  • some felt the education system screwed the it community by dropping the ball - some felt that CIPS, MS and IBM etc should have structured mentoring programs

  • give a designation for what you need; no long term dedication for a position


 For the future

  • get companies with a supporter logo for the mentor programs of a general population

    • sponsor the industry you need beyond colleges and universities

  • ensure you are current on technologies

    • encourage IT pros not to lose sight of the industry

    • suggested that universities should be providing a framework of what the academic community is not doing so the certificate programs can be build more appropriately

    • industry needs to mobilize

  • change the image of an IT Pro - continue with the changes to certifications - avoid paper based certs and those lacking practical skills

  • integration of technical skills and soft skills - try to even out the skill set - for example, ensure those with networking skills get project management skills etc to help add value to IT Pro’s job


How do we keep people from leaving the field?

  • many leave because of pressures of money, lack of support from employers, one time projects, and family commitments

  • offer professionals skills beyond technology

  • bring the glamour back into IT

Comments (4)

  1. Anonymous says:

    As part of the Microsoft Windows Server 2008/ SQL Server 2008/Visual Studio 2008 Launch events , we are

  2. Desmond Sosu says:

    There’re some of us who’re very much interested in pursuing ICT road till death-do-us-part.  But can we find we find companies who’ll be willing to take us in as we graduate?  Some of the students I know have graduated and are still looking for jobs. Companies are requiring years of experience and this, I believe, is having a negative effect on people going into the ICT field.  How can parents encourage their children to go into this field when students graduate with their Microsoft certifications and strugle and strugle to find jobs?

    Some of us don’t care much about how much we’re paid. We have the desire and we have the love to be in the ICT field, but it’s discouraging to see graduates struggling to find jobs.

    If companies will give new graduates the opportunity to learn from the more experienced IT Pros, it will encourage others into going into the ICT field and parents will not be discouraging their children from going into this field.  Some of us we have the desire and the love for the ICT field, what we need is the opportunity to work in the field that we’ve spend our time learning.

  3. Rodney Buike says:

    Hi Desmond,

    You are 100% correct!  I wish it wasn’t so but that is the challenge we face.  I’ve been speaking to students across Canada and they all ask the same question.  How do I get experience when no one will hire me?

    My first response is to ignore the years of experience requirements on any job posting.  In my experience that is put in place by HR who aren’t as aware the technical requirements.  HR is accustomed to asking for that.  Heck I’ve seen requirements asking for 10 year of experience with Windows 2003!

    The second response is to get the experience!  Sounds simple and it is, if you are willing to put in some free time.  Non-profits are always looking for skilled people to help them out.  Offer up your services to your favourite charity as they will be more than willing to take you on and are great sources for references.  If you are having trouble finding a non-profit who needs help, sing up to and let the system find them for you.

    Our team is working hard to bring this to the forefront not only to get students to enter the industry, but to remind the industry that we need to change our ways and look to those just finishing school to fill the holes in our workforce.

    Rodney Buike

    IT Pro Advisor

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