Dissecting the ‘IT talent crunch’


Compiled by Joaquim P. Menezes

The latest CNC Global report on the so-called hi-tech hiring bonanza in the first quarter of this year is the latest in a series of “IT industry surveys” recently published around the same theme.

Most of these surveys include recurring motifs, notably that:

• Canadian companies are having a really tough time finding qualified IT talent

• IT hiring levels have spiked dramatically and continue to rise

• The issue needs to be addressed urgently if we don’t want a crisis on our hands

No sooner do we report on any of these surveys, than we’re invariably inundated with a volley of letters – many from unemployed or underemployed IT professionals – who claim the so-called skills crunch is hogwash.

Other letter writers, while acknowledging employers are experiencing hiring problems, ascribe this – not to a dearth of qualified people out there – but to a variety of other reasons, which they then go on to graphically outline. And there are a range of other opinions and shades of opinion aired that fall somewhere in between.

In the spirit of letting our readers speak for themselves we’ve decided to publish, in one place, a very wide selection of their letters to us on this hot-button issue.

The letters included here were in response to two of our recently published articles on so-called IT Careers crunch:

Canada-wide surge in demand for IT professionals, says report

North American firms ‘can’t find’ qualified IT talent

Letters have been edited for language and length.


Paul from Mississauga writes:

Where are these jobs and who gets them? Who do I contact if I want to apply? I have more than 15 years experience as an IBM mainframe computer programmer/analyst. I was laid off in 2001 after my Y2K project work was completed. I have not been able to find any IT work since. We are now in 2007 and the situation hasn’t changed. I’ve sent out at least a couple of hundred resumes, but have had no luck finding work. I suggest companies that have problems finding IT staff advertise on TV and see how many hundreds of resumes they get from jobs seekers. My resume and application would certainly be among them.

Ted Huang of Toronto writes:

I’ve been working in the IT and telecom industries for more than 15 years, but know of recent graduates who can’t get jobs. They are well qualified, having studied electrical engineering as well as computer science at the University of Toronto and University of Waterloo. These new grads have been raised in Canada and are articulate. They aren’t slackers, nor do they have communication problems. But they still can get jobs. I also know many students who are averse to studying or pursuing careers in IT because they have seen their family members or friends getting laid off following the dot-com bust of the early 2000s.

Paul Luomala from Thunder Bay writes:

Talk about a “skills crunch” is nonsense. It’s just an excuse to offshore work in order to cut costs. In this office, we have at least three system analyst grads doing data entry because they can’t get a job in keeping with their qualifications.

Jeannette Kalkounis from Toronto writes:

Of course there is a shortage of qualified IT talent. All of our IT talent has to work in the U.S. travelling from Sunday to Thursday, because Canadian companies have outsourced their business to India and China. I often talk to Canadian consultants working in the U.S. They don’t want to be in the U.S., but can’t find jobs here. The fact is our IT talent in the U.S. makes double of what they would make here. I think we should first try to bring them back to Canada, and only then bring in skilled people from other countries.

Shawn Prosper from Stratford writes:

It’s surprising the tech sector in Canada is having such a hard time finding talent. I am currently doing a network engineering course, and have discovered that many of my fellow students are finding it hard to get jobs in IT. No one wants to hire you without experience, but to get that experience you need to be hired, so it’s a Catch-22 situation.

Richard from Cambridge, U.K. writes:

I’ve been trying for years to immigrate to Canada now and finally have managed to get into the queue. You’d think I am unqualified, but that’s not true. I’ve been in IT since the zx80 spectrum days, and speak English well. I want to live and work in Canada, love the culture and would have no problem adapting. You’d think I’d be there now sipping beer on a patio, and watching the Sens beat the Devils. But Canadian immigration managed to lose my previous two applications, and now I’m in queue. I’ve been advised not to contact them until they manage to get through the pile, which is undoubtedly filled with the files of people less qualified than me.


William Madryga from Mississauga writes:

I think a more accurate assessment is CIOs can’t find IT talent at the price they want. There are surplus IT resources in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) as a result of mergers and downsizing. Many large employers in the GTA have all but eliminated contract resources. I know of experienced individuals who have given up on IT and have taken up other occupations because they cannot find work. Employers are also demanding a far more extensive skill set than was the case a few years ago. When they use the term “qualified” do they mean they’re unwilling to train, or allow a few days for self-training on minor skills that may be missing?

Elizabeth Barr from Toronto writes:

North American firms can’t find’ qualified IT people – not because there’s a skills shortage here – but because companies want to pay wages lower than they would for local talent. That is the bottom line – lower wages, no HR overhead, short-term hires, no long-term commitment to a full-time employee. Monies saved can be used elsewhere on infrastructure or improve the bottom line. I laugh when I read the qualifications companies are demanding for minimally paid jobs. Why would our youth pay tens of thousands of dollars in certification training for a high-tech job, just to get paid a little over minimum wage?

Amin Adatia from Ottawa writes:

Companies want to pay rock bottom wages for 10+ years of experience. You’ll get a firm looking (say) for a database administrator with a minimum of five years experience in Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, MS Access. The same person will be expected to have several years of experience with Java and .Net, and to be familiar with using MacDraw to do data models. After that, making the “salary” lower than what an auto-repair shop charges does not make any sense.


Anonymous from London, Ont. writes:

IT is now a 24/7 business and most of us – after years of putting in more hours than we can remember – get a 0.5% annual increase, if anything at all. No wonder IT personnel are beginning to wonder when work-life balance is supposed to begin. We actually do want

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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