While in Geneva at the ITU World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), I talked with Namir Anani, President and CEO of the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) and invited him to provide his views since they impact ICT executives and professionals. Here are his thoughts:

We have witnessed in recent decades unprecedented global economic growth that is expected to continue as young economies emerge, trade expands, and electronic connectivity bridges social and economic divides. It’s also fair to say that this growth has been and will continue to be largely the result of technology advances – a critical enabler behind any modern economy.

Demographic shifts, globalization of markets, changing consumer habits and expectations, and fierce competition are also factors that are radically altering how businesses operate in every sector of the economy. At the root of any success in this environment is innovation, a factor that is predominantly defined by technology and talent.

But the quest for such talent is accelerating. Our research indicates that in Canada by 2018 around 150,000 critical ICT position will need to be filled. These positions are reflective of an increasing skills gap that has been created by rapid technological change. While large companies have the finances and cycles to staff and upskill their workforce, SMEs find it much harder to do. This labour and skills gap is not unique to Canada. The European Commission in a recent announcement anticipated a shortfall of around 900,000 ICT positions by 2020.

While building a healthy talent supply through the educational system is the focus of policymakers around the world, the lead time to staff critical positions is a challenge for many industries and especially SMEs.

Faced with this reality, many businesses are now deploying workplace recruitment strategies that either focus on competing for global talent in a tight labour market, or are relocating their offices to geographies where skilled talent is available. A good example is what is taking shape in London, UK, which is becoming one of the fastest-growing tech hubs and a location of choice for organizations and entrepreneurs to start and scale successful digital businesses. While incentive policies are at the heart of this strategy, the availability of skilled talent is a key motivator for many international firms to set up shop.

Another labour dimension emerging in recent years is online labour availability. Fostered by an increasingly connected landscape, the value of the online labour worldwide market reached $1B in 2012, and is projected to hit $5B in 2018. Virtual labour marketplaces are now making available skilled talent that only large corporations have traditionally enjoyed. What happened to the brick-and-mortar retail sector several years ago could be an indication of the changing face of the labour market that is no longer defined by the cubical. Tomorrow’s business talent strategies will no doubt be as distributive as the technologies transforming them.

Namir’s profile

Namir Anani, President and CEO of the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), is the chief strategist and driving force in bringing ICTC’s world-class centre of expertise and services to industry, education and government; enabling Canada’s advancement as a leader in innovation, productivity in the global economy.

Before joining ICTC, Namir previously led Policy Development & Research at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). He has also held several executive leadership roles in both the private and public sectors including the Department of Canadian Heritage (Director General & CEO), CGI consulting, Nortel, and Novartis (Switzerland). Mr. Anani’s experience extends to; strategic policy development and implementation, learning and capacity building, business transformation, national/international strategic alliances, economic and market research, and technology innovation.