Aging workforce may hurt Canada’s coming ICT hiring spree

Canada’s information and communications technology sector (ICT) is poised for a surge in job openings but an aging talent pool threatens to leave more of them unfilled than recruiters would like, a new report suggests.

About 106,000 ICT jobs will be created in Canada by 2016 “with a demandthat far exceeds the supply, in both traditional and emerging ICTsectors,” the Information and Communications TechnologyCouncil (ICTC)said in a report released today.

Canada’s ICT workforce is agingrapidly, as figures from ICTC and StatsCan suggest.

Finding enough workers to fill those new positions could prove tough,however. In 2001, there 23,000 Canadian ICT workers aged 55 and older –they made up four per cent of the total ICT workforce. By 2011 thenumber of 55-plus aged workers more than doubled to 60,000 workers ornine per cent of the overall ICT workforce, the study on ICT labourtrends found.

To tackle the problem of an aging ICT talent pool, betterefforts mustbe made to recruit youth, Aboriginal people, women and foreign workersto the sector and “close the gap between industry needs and academia bypreparing graduates for the new business paradigm and accelerate theirdeployment in the industry,” the report recommends.

Despite its aging labour pool, things are generally looking up forCanada’s ICT sector. Although the global economic downturn haspresented many challenges to the industry in recent years, the joblessrate in the sector fell from 4.2 per cent in 2009 to three per cent in2011. And ICT salaries rose by three percent between 2010 and2011. There are strong indications that “many employers areplanning to further increase (ICT) salaries in 2012,” according to thestudy.

Some of the positions that were most in demand or posted the highestjob gains in 2011 were Web designers and developers, electrical andelectronics engineers, information systems business analysts, graphicdesigners and illustrators, interactive media developers, and systemssecurity analysts. Positions that were actually oversupplied — withtoo many workers for too few jobs — were Web technicians, user supporttechnicians and systems testing technicians.

Ontario continues to be the home province for the majority of Canada’sICT workers with nearly half — 48 per cent — of the country’s ICTlabour force residing there.

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