Beating the Bushes for Tech Talent -- British Columbia Technology Industry Steps up Efforts to Fill Serious Recruiting Gaps

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With over 10,000 tech industry jobs in British Columbia up for grabs this year, the BC technology industry is pulling out all the stops in its effort to recruit new workers. According to a new report from the British Columbia Technology Industry Association (BCTIA) the industry's talent shortage is growing, requiring more aggressive action than when the shortage was first identified last year. In early April for example, a number of BC tech employers will participate in three recruiting forums, led by BCTIA in partnership with the Provincial Government, to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Palo Alto, CA to attract foreign students studying in the United States.

The Technology industry is tackling the talent shortage on all fronts. In early April for example, a number of BC tech employers will participate in three recruiting forums, led by BCTIA in partnership with the Provincial Government, to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Palo Alto

With over 10,000 tech industry jobs in British Columbia up for grabs this year, the BC technology industry is pulling out all the stops in its effort to recruit new workers.

According to a new report from the British Columbia Technology Industry Association (BCTIA) the industry's talent shortage is growing, requiring more aggressive action than when the shortage was first identified last year.

"The Technology industry is tackling the talent shortage on all fronts. In early April for example, a number of BC tech employers will participate in three recruiting forums, led by BCTIA in partnership with the Provincial Government, to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Palo Alto," says Pascal Spothelfer, President of BCTIA. "But in addition to recruiting out of province talent, we need to put our efforts into retraining, supporting enrolment in technical programs and ensuring K-12 students see this industry as an exciting and well-paying career option."

Almost 400 technology companies of varying sizes across the province participated in the annual TechTalentBC Labour Demand Study. This represents one-third of the technology industry employment and $5 billion in revenue. The annual study is funded in partnership with Western Economic Diversification Canada and the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education.

The study indicates continued demand for customer-facing roles, in particular over 700 sales and sales management positions and over 950 customer service positions. As well, there is demand for approximately 1000 software engineers and surprisingly, over 500 project managers. The study also saw an increased demand for multi-media developers a group that is expected to grow by 43 percent.

"The high-demand that we have seen over the past two years for customer-facing and management positions clearly shows that there is a lot more to working in the technology industry than working in a lab, or writing code - although we have plenty of opportunity in those areas too," says Spothelfer.

"To thrive in a knowledge economy, Canada must be a magnet for highly-skilled workers," says the Honourable Rona Ambrose, President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of Western Economic Diversification. "The results of this study will help B.C.'s technology industry develop strategies to generate a better-educated, skilled and competitive workforce."

While most companies recognize that much of the talent is going to come from immigration, the study found over 77 percent of respondents were not aware of the BC Provincial Nominee Program, a program that offers accelerated immigration for qualified skilled workers and experienced entrepreneurs who wish to settle in British Columbia. To address this lack of awareness and make the program more accessible, BCTIA is working with the provincial government to deliver a series of educational workshops in the upcoming months.

"Government shares the technology industry's concerns about addressing staffing issues," said Murray Coell, B.C.'s Minister of Advanced Education and Minister responsible for Research and Technology. "The province is pleased to partner in research to gather information that can be used as a basis for synergies to build the groundwork for strategic human resource planning."

Other findings of interest:

Difficult positions and Desirable Skills: Project managers and programmers are among the most difficult positions to fill. In many difficult hiring positions, a number of employers indicated they would accept people who are willing to learn rather than looking for the specific skills and experience. In terms of the most desirable skills being sought by employers is the ability to work in teams and collaborate with others.

Increased Hiring of Non-Traditional Workers: In a predominantly male dominated industry we are seeing an increase in the number of non-traditional workers in technical roles, particularly in new media, life sciences and sustainable technologies. Non-traditional workers are defined as female, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal and seniors.

What's important to employees? In terms of attracting and retaining employees, the quality of work/life balance is becoming increasingly important. In particular, convenient work location and close proximity to home is valued above all other non-monetary benefits. Other important non-monetary attributes include recreational amenities and a good corporate culture including a commitment to sound environmental practices.

A Developing Funnel: The number of sole entrepreneurs in BC is growing steadily currently comprising over 8,000 companies in the BC technology industry. More than just contract employees, the study uncovers that most sole entrepreneurs are true freelancers and many are expecting to hire full-time employees in the near future, providing the seed for the next generation of technology companies.

For a copy of TechTalentBC: Labour Trends in the British Columbia Technology Sector study visit: http://www.bctia.org/Knowledge/

About BCTIA

BC Technology Industry Association (BCTIA) is a not-for-profit, member-funded organization that represents start-ups to established technology companies, across the province. Incorporated in 1993, the BCTIA has served the province's technology industry for over a decade and today is recognized locally, provincially and nationally as the voice of BC's technology industry. As the voice of BC's technology industry, BCTIA is committed to the ongoing growth, sustainability and prosperity of BC's technology industry. The Association delivers opportunities for members to connect, learn and grow their businesses in BC. For more information visit: http://www.bctia.org.

For more information, contact:
Catherine Ducharme
T: (604) 637-6372 or Cell (604) 813-6104

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