Saskatchewan has ample IT training and education opportunities – it’s just that industry in the province is having some trouble finding out about them, according to a recent study.
Over the last year, the Saskatchewan arm of the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) – a national IT standards body – surveyed 346 companies and IT professionals, in an effort to spot current human resource and training needs in the province.
The findings have been published in a report, entitled The Saskatchewan Information Technology Sector Partnership: Education and Training Needs Assessment. The document will help ensure companies have access to skilled employees in the future, said one of the study’s directors.
To help realize that goal, CIPS said a database of over 100 training programs available in the province would be created.
“This sort of thing is an ongoing need in the industry,” said Donna Lindskog, professionalism director at CIPS in Regina. “It is a very dynamic sector in the industry and to not have anyone watching to see that our HR needs are being met, well, everyone always needs to have an idea where we are.”
The report found Saskatchewan’s estimated 247 IT companies (which employ over 10,000 people), are finding it difficult to recruit employees with relevant experience or skills. As well, many don’t have the ability to offer competitive wages.
“There is no one simple answer, and it changes day-by-day, so we need to have a committee there to find out what it is they need today and get it out there to the right parties,” Lindskog said.
Rick Pawliw, executive director of the programs branch of Saskatchewan Post-Secondary Education and Skills Training in Prince Albert, Sask., said government may play a small role in providing information on IT training, but industry has to remain “front and centre.”
“When the study was initiated, there was strong demand for employees in the IT sector, or even IT professionals working with more mainstream companies that are using technology to assist with their products and services,” he said. “There is quite a demand for skilled workers in other sectors, so it is important the IT sector does some planning because there will be competition.”
To help that planning along, a steering committee made up of IT industry and training representatives has already been formed. Its job is to provide help analyzing the survey and to follow-up on its recommendations. The committee will also promote Saskatchewan’s training opportunities, and try to involve more organizations.
“We are insisting that people have this training, so to be successful ourselves, we have to make sure the companies are able to find it,” Lindskog said. “It will be an ongoing challenge and something we all have to work on.”
Although the survey is similar to other joint industry-government studies in size and scope, she said its IT industry focus makes it unique.
“There needs to be a way for industry to talk to the education organizations about what their needs are and I am hoping this committee will be that,” Lindskog said.
Pawliw said sustaining the post-report activity would be crucial. “There are certainly a lot of good programs currently available out there,” he said. “Sustainability is one of our key goals, so that it’s not just that industry came in with a snapshot. We want the group to continue to work together to refine and update and do the needs assessments and find strategies.”
The survey was funded by Saskatchewan Post-Secondary Education and Skills Training and was produced in association with the Trimension Training and Consulting Group.