I had the opportunity to read an article announcing the 'Canadian Coalition for IT Succession' from www.itworldcanada.com http://www.itworldcanada.com/V.aspx?i=4b24f1fd263c401da593 . Although I 'generally' agree with the suggestions made regarding the tackling of the 'IT skill shortage' in Canada, I might suggest a better effort is needed, immediately, by companies in dealing with under-utilized and unemployed IT professionals currently existing in the Canadian industry.
Firstly, let me explain my bias. I am CEO with CareerDoor Inc. – a company that has established a strong reputation in technology and technology sales recruiting across the country. We are not an agency. (www.careerdoor.com) My professional interest is in bringing companies on board as paying clients. On the other hand, our role is to “create a forum” for our clients, the likes of Cisco Systems, Smart Technologies, IBM, Research in Motion, ING Direct, Shaw etc, to meet face-to-face and online at scheduled events with technology job-seekers in order to ascertain whether the candidate fits into the workplace culture of their company, to allow the job-seeker an opportunity to size up the company, to make suggestions to the candidate on what to do to upgrade their skills to improve their chances of employment with their firm and to offer them employment if the talent warrants it.
Having been a part of many of these events over the last year in particular, it is my opinion, a greater effort needs to be made today by the companies in this proposed coalition and others to support companies like ours attempting to set up an infrastructure of one-on-one forums across the country to facilitate interaction between employers and job-seekers; to deal with the tremendous variances in talent pools across the country, for example, maybe foster programs to assist IT professionals in re-location; to help counsel job-seekers to seek upgrading in areas they may be lacking (over 75% of the job-seekers attending our events are looking to upgrade their skills); to recognize that a significant number of IT professionals are under-employed and are seeking opportunities to move up (over 60% of the job-seekers attending our events are employed and almost 80% have 5 years experience or more); and the need for the larger companies to support the recruiting activities of the smaller companies in the industry in order to assure the availability of entry level assignments – a feeder system if you will – to help deliver the promise of a job future to IT professionals. (Read the CBC News article at this link… http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2008/01/21/ot-tech-080121.html?ref=rss)
If the coalition is interested in meeting the needs of the IT industry and its professionals in the future its first focus should be on leveraging the talent already available in Canada, give that talent an opportunity to get answers to their questions as an alternative to the all too familiar one-sided communication existing today – an invitation to apply to a website career section and try to avoid the mixed messages given out by companies in the industry. For example, the common refrains we hear from the larger technology employers in the industry at the grass roots level; are no budget for outside recruiting; most of our technology hiring is done from within; there's no shortage of technology talent available; we have an exclusive resume database that supplies us all the talent we need – most of which seems to run contrary to prevailing opinions.
Further, although a 'technology targeted' immigration plan may be part of the answer, it may not be the long term answer. As the skills of immigrants improve, the tendency might be for them to return to their country of origin after attaining North American experience to realize a standard of living in their technologically booming homeland far exceeding their expectations in Canada.
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