Canada’s Looming Tech Employment Problem

A 1% increase in labour productivity as the result of adopting advanced technologies would yield $8 billion to the Canadian economy, a new report suggests.

However, ICTC’s 2015 Labour Market Outlook also revealed that, despite the compelling argument for greater technology adoption, Canadian enterprises, particularly small and medium-size enterprises, are slow to adopt new technologies.

“This contributes to Canada’s well-known and persistent productivity gap relative to the U.S., our largest trading partner,” the outlook reads.

“The global economy is upon us and emerging digital technologies have the potential to significantly heighten Canada’s competitive advantage,” says Janet Kennedy, the president of Microsoft Canada. “Demographic shifts, globalization of markets, changing consumer habits and expectations, and fierce competition are all radically altering how markets function and businesses operate.”

“Over the next five years, the adoption of smart and connected technologies powered by hyper-scale cloud computing will reshape all sectors of our economy including manufacturing, natural resources, financial services, health, transportation, and many others,” she added.

The ICTC’s labour market report indicates that by 2019, over 182,000 critical ICT positions will be left unfilled.

“We must not miss the opportunity to train young Canadians to fill the digital jobs of the future,” Kennedy says. “Talent is critical to our ability to leverage the full potential of exciting new technologies that will drive the future growth and prosperity of the Canadian economy.”

According to the outlook, improving the educational system responsiveness to the labour market needs will be paramount, and a key enabler in this environment will be the ability to better forecast the skills needs of the future. Furthermore, success in managing the up-and-coming ICT supply and demand market imbalance will depend primarily on our ability as an economy to forecast all the required skills of the future in a timely manner, build strong employer bridging programs, and provide ongoing short duration industry up-skilling, according to the report.



811,200 ICT professionals are employed in Canada in early 2015. Of them, 51,600 are youth aged 25 or younger, 90,900 are nearing retirement, 197,900 are women, and 290,300 are immigrants.

Industries outside the ICT sector are major users of ICT products and services. The demand for top ICT talent continues to grow and has resulted in expanding career options for ICT professionals, placing competitive pressure on the employers seeking technical ICT talent. Among employed ICT professionals, 357,000 (44%) work in the ICT sector, while 454,200 (56%) work in other sectors (e.g. finance, health).

As the current ICT workforce ages, not many youth are opting for ICT careers, leaving a void that could potentially limit Canada’s future competitiveness before long. Significantly fewer youth work in ICT professions than in other jobs. In contrast, ICT professions have a greater proportion of workers in the older age groups compared to the total Canadian workforce.

“We are in the midst of a very global and competitive landscape; positioning our digital talent as a comparative advantage will be paramount in the coming years,” said Namir Anani, CEO of the Information and Communications Technology Council.