182,000 IT Positions Available By 2019 – True or False?

I know this article is quite old from 2015 but it inspires IT professionals and business owners like me to muse aloud about the reality.  It is really based on a report from the Canadian government that suggests there is a shortage of IT workers in Canada.

Canada needs 182,000 people to fill positions for information systems analysts and consultants, computer and network operators, Web technicians, software engineers and others in by 2019

I’m just not seeing this as a business owner in Canada, specifically BC and neither are my colleagues in the industry or my students.  While it does sound exciting we have to remember this is a government report.  They wouldn’t release a report that says “business stagnant, pay low and skilled IT workers cannot find good jobs”.  But this is the unfortunate reality especially in BC.  A common trend I ran into when I first started in the business 17 years ago is that a lot of clients had no budget or money for IT consultants or infrastructure.  I am talking about basic networking and security and as a result some companies have suffered huge losses.  I’ve been told recently by my colleagues that this is still an issue.

The heart of the issue to me is that Canada’s business environment and particularly IT has very little demand except for large dominant players like Amazon, Microsoft etc…   There is little to no room for success for small business especially when compared to many other markets especially the US.  To people who don’t believe me I’ve said look at what the amount of age of the hardware your client has. See the difference in selection, scope, scale and age in Canada vs the US and Asia.  In Canada you can still find antiquated 10+ year old dinosaur hardware running old versions of Windows still.  This to me is a good anecdotal way to see  the scale of IT budgets and deployments.

I’ve trained my own staff and students and we always let them know that in Canada although we’ve trained you for mission-critical enterprise solutions, the reality is often different.  You may find some clients have very small scale deployments which require very creative and flexible deployments that focus on cost efficiency.  Of course there are exceptions such as governmental organizations in Canada and large companies.  But I’d like to focus on small business, and there is little contest when comparing to the scale and scope in the US.

To make it more clear the majority of jobs out there seem to be for juniors and especially foreigners/temporary-foreign-workers.  In plain English  it means companies don’t want to pay a good wage.  A lot of the junior positions I’ve looked at often involve essentially IT management.  So if there are jobs available they are not high paying and many are targeted at temporary foreign workers who are often paid much less than citizens.   This is also evident by the various ways employers query applicants by asking their ethnic group, profiling by name, and finding out their VISA and Citizenship status.  I believe those questions should simply be illegal as they are used under the guise of determining eligibility to work in the country but that’s the only question that should be asked.  Perhaps HR and recruiters should not even know the name of the person as it has long been known that this is a common form of discrimination.

I don’t mean to be pessimistic but realistic.  When colleagues and students are feeling anxious or down about why they can’t seem to find a good paying job that matches their skills despite being experienced and qualified what do I tell them?  I tell them not to be down or in doubt, it’s often the market and not the person and it’s time to branch out to new markets and that usually means moving overseas where there are sometimes more jobs with higher pay.  In general when comparing the IT situation overseas especially in Asia Pacific, my colleagues there are not impressed with what Canada offers.  We are quite honestly years behind in almost every way.

There is hope and there is a solution though. If our government would actually make us a true tech hub and create a small business ecosystem around it like you see in Asia things could change fast.  In fact if the recent 4.5 Billion purchase of an oil pipeline (which is expected to actually cost nearly 20 Billion dollars) had been pumped into IT infrastructure and ecosystems I think we could be a true leader and trend setter.  It doesn’t take a genius to understand that this money would be better spent and injected into business opportunities that create more jobs, than a pipeline that mainly benefits shareholders and puts all the associate risks onto taxpayers.

 

 

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