Software group overhauls job descriptions

A new occupational profile tool will provide definitive job descriptions for the Information Technology sector and save the Canada’s IT industry millions each year, according to the Software Human Resource Council.

The SHRC plans to unveil the Occupational Skills Profile Model (OSPM), endorsed by the federal government, at the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance’s (CATA) Globetech conference in Ottawa next week. OSPM gives descriptions of 24 technology industry jobs, bridging the gap between IT managers and human resource professional, said Paul Swinwood, the SHRC president and CEO.

“This is going to help the IT community and the HR community get together with their definitions,” he said.

Barry Gander, senior advocate of public policy for CATA, said that the current confusion results in companies unintentionally hiring people that don’t exactly fit the needs of the company.

“There are tens of thousands of skills recruitment firms out there who are, even in a bear market, struggling to find the right people for the right job,” Gander said. “Up until now, nobody has had a dictionary, a common language to say ‘I’m looking for this kind of person and he has to have this skill set.”

Swinwood added that companies hire wrong almost 25 per cent of the time, costing them a total tens of millions of dollars each year.

But reducing company-hiring costs is just one of advantages OSPM offers, Swinwood said. The Human Resources Development Council has enlisted Statistics Canada to keep track of software employment, based on OSPM. Swinwood said this will allow the industry to know what skills are in demand, aiding immigration officials in determining visa allocation and Canadian governments in distribution of training funds.

“It will help governments and the educational community focus their efforts,” Swinwood said. “This will allow them to spend education and training dollars more wisely.”

David Perry, CATA human resources advisor and managing partner of executive recruiting firm Perry Martel International, said one of OSPM’s biggest achievements is that it greatly expands the categories of technology jobs. Before OSPM, technology workers were officially recognized as computer programmers, systems analysts or computer operators. With the number of categories increased to 24, Perry said companies and governments will be better able to adjust the changing job market.

“Part of the problem was the inability to measure what we had been missing,” Perry said. “Before (OSPM) got released, there was no way for a government to profile what the holes were in the tech industry.”

A survey released by the SHRC on Monday found that 35 per cent of vacant IT positions remained unfilled for more than four months last year.

OSPM, based on feedback from governments, the IT companies and industry associations like ITAC (Information Technology Association of Canada) and CATA, will be introduced in book form on Monday and is expected to be available as an online database next month. Swinwood said it puts Canada ahead of every other country in terms of tracking and reporting the software job market.

Gander said OSPM gives Canada’s IT industry a comparative advantage over those in other countries, and is an indicator of how quickly the industry in this country comes together to address common concerns.

“It’s a comparative advantage Canadians have over industries in other countries that we can move quickly because we move together.”

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