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A study was just released this week by the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), in partnership with the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC), which paints a pretty alarming picture for businesses across Canada. It shows that there is a major skills and labour shortage looming in the technology sector.

With tech being such a competition differentiator, this doesn’t bode well for Canadian businesses in general. But it’s not just any tech skills that are companies are looking for – it’s specific skills. According to the study, the key technology trends over the next five years will pertain to virtualization, the 'Cloud' and Service-oriented Architecture (SOA).  There’s a significant mismatch between what businesses are looking for and what the labour market will be able to supply.

So what can you do? Well, if you’re still in school, seek out co-op or internship opportunities to get relevant experience. If you’re a professional from another country, make sure you have strong French or English language skills in addition to up-to-date technical skills. If you’re an employer, look to invest in candidates that have some but not all of what you’re looking for with training and professional development.

There are many more details and calls to action within the study itself, so please read the study report on the ICTC website or listen to the audiocast of the launch event.

This study really highlights for me why it’s important for those of us in the tech sector to be talking about what we do to the kids in grade schools and high schools around the country. Many parents and guidance counsellors don’t have the knowledge to guide interested youngsters into technology disciplines. And there’s also a whole untapped source of skills in young girls, who unless there is a significant influence in their lives like a parenttransportation school bus who works in the technology, don’t view the tech sector as a desirable career option (ref: ICTC Diversity: The Competitive Edge).

I encourage you to approach your local school board even if you don’t have children that attend there. I know in the Waterloo Region in Ontario, near where I live, there is the Business Education Partnership which matches up business professionals willing to speak with teachers looking for speakers. Contact your local school or school board and offer your expertise. Let’s do what we can to find and develop the future technology leaders of tomorrow, today.

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