Calgary responding to ICT shortages with education, training

In Alberta, the overall unemployment rate of just over four per cent is at least two full percentage points lower than the Canadian average. Calgary leads the province with an unemployment rate of well below four per cent.

The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) field is tighter still, causing considerable tension in the industry.

Growth in most industry verticals is unparalleled, leading to continued strong demand for ICT services.

The Calgary section of the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) recently interviewed 34 area ICT decision makers, including CIOs and ICT consulting companies, to obtain their opinions on a number of issues relating to changing skill needs and the related skill gaps, or shortages. The largest skill gaps were seen as:

  • Business analysis capabilities such as financial management, understanding the business, ROI, process management, etc.;
  • Specific technical skills, in various areas, including ERP;
  • Network and application architecture;
  • Soft skills such as communication, negotiating and writing.

Of more than 225 comments received, business analysis skills occurred at least twice as often as any other.

While demand for developers and infrastructure people has not diminished to any extent, the need for a blending of business and technology skills and experience is paramount in successfully delivering projects or supporting the business’s technology needs.

To further aggravate the situation, student enrolment is down in some areas of IT education. If this is a recurring trend, the future will likely be more bleak than today.

So what’s being done? Successful companies are employing aggressive retention strategies that include training key staff and providing improved work-life balance programs. The ICT professional is a hot commodity in Calgary right now, and the consulting firms are hopping.

CIPS Calgary discussions provided extensive feed back on how CIPS can support Calgary ICT decision makers’ efforts, in line with these challenges:

  • Make education and training opportunities more accessible;
  • Provide networking opportunities so members can learn from each other
  • Align with complementary associations to round-out the ICT definition;
  • Assist with career planning and development

As a result, CIPS Calgary is actively becoming the virtual meeting place for ICT professionals by broadening the definition of ICT through its annual program and by forming alliances with other associations.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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