The tech industry is changing, the Canadian economy is changing, and the priorities and values of Canadians are changing. A prosperous tech future for Canada requires connecting our diverse workforce with the moving target of tech employer needs.
A lot of ink has been spilled on the fears surrounding the tech skills gap. In reality, however, the talent is there for those who are willing and able to engage it. Make no mistake — this isn’t a skills gap, it’s a talent war. The rich crop of Canadian talent could revolutionize the Canadian tech sector, but only if sourced from the full mosaic of new Canadian capability. And the organizations that win the battle and reap the benefits will be those who understand what drives Canada’s diverse new skillsforce. As Canada’s leading national technology industry association, TECHNATION Canada is working to build the infrastructure that will enable Canada’s tech sector to fully leverage the potential of Canada’s talent pool.
Senior Vice-President of Industry, Membership and Diversity & Inclusion, TECHNATION Canada
“The importance of diversity is interwoven into everything in the Canadian tech landscape,” says Denise Shortt, TECHNATION’s Senior Vice President of Industry, Membership and Diversity & Inclusion. “It’s been shown very clearly that a more diverse workforce is a more innovative one, a more productive one, and a more economically competitive one. Diversity, thankfully, is a resource in which Canada is very wealthy. The through-line of our programs is ensuring that the tech sector is tapping into that wealth and nurturing its continued growth with an inclusive and equitable business culture.”
We can’t get there without a plan
Among TECHNATION’s flagship programs is Career Ready, funded by the Government of Canada’s Student Work Placement Program. Career Ready funds student work placements and helps guide young professionals along career pathways into the tech sector, charting a course toward areas of greatest opportunity and mapping out the skills and knowledge that will allow them to thrive. Alongside Career Ready sit programs like TECHNATION’s LaunchPad, which provides training modules to both students and employers to help them prepare for work placements, CareerFinder, which uses AI technology to analyze real-time data and provide guidance on changing workforce needs, and AdaPT, which helps grads from non-tech disciplines upskill and reskill into tech opportunities.
VP, Partnerships, ventureLAB
The success of these thoroughly pragmatic solutions depends, of course, on the engagement from partners within the industry. Partners like Markham-based innovation hub ventureLAB. “We’ve been working with TECHNATION for years, and we have a lot of common goals related to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” says Jane Gertner, Vice President of Partnerships at ventureLAB. “Many of the founders of our companies are from underrepresented groups themselves, and they know how diversity, especially diversity of thought, contributes to growth. We’ve also taken the opportunity ourselves to bring a significant amount of student and internship talent into our own organization through TECHNATION’s Career Ready Program.”
The needle is moving on that, but slowly, and we’re trying to help it move a bit more quickly… It’s important to make sure that we have a tech sector that looks like Canada — that looks like Canadians.Justine Kintanar
If you can’t find the right talent, you’re not looking in the right places
VP, External Relations, Marketing & Communications, ventureLAB
The war for skills in Canada is pitched. There is so much talent, so much knowledge, and so many economic resources on the battlefield. But only through diversity, equity, and inclusion can we bring these forces together into a thriving tech sector in which we are all victorious. “The needle is moving on that, but slowly, and we’re trying to help it move a bit more quickly,” says Justine Kintanar, Vice President of External Relations and Communications at ventureLAB. “It’s important to make sure that we have a tech sector that looks like Canada — that looks like Canadians.”
This goal, which is not just a social imperative, but also an essential ingredient for economic success, is only possible through open collaboration and diligent effort. “Developing a nationwide ecosystem to foster and cultivate the next generation of Canadian talent requires the cooperation of industry, government, academia, and community partners,” says Shortt. “Every partner brings their specific piece of the puzzle. Together we can assemble a bright and colourful image of Canada’s tech future.”