Sunday, May 26, 2024

66% of Canadian IT Leaders Short on Critical Tech Talent: A Guide for Minding the Gap

In today’s quickly evolving technology landscape, talent is the linchpin that holds everything together. Without a strong pool of talent to draw from, a company’s ability to adapt successfully is put at risk – which makes the tight market for skilled professionals in tech companies in Canada particularly worrisome for Canadian businesses. 

As leaders navigate the depths of these challenges, implementing strategies informed by recent findings from Equinix’s 2023 Global Tech Trends report (GTTS) can empower businesses to not only address the talent gap, but also align their business strategy with changing economic and industry dynamics.

Data-Driven Insights: Understanding the Landscape

The GTTS data paints a compelling picture of the IT talent landscape in Canada, revealing the top challenges faced by Canadian IT leaders. 

The report found that for almost half (47%) of Canadian IT leaders, retaining top talent is a pressing concern; while 40% noted the scarcity of available talent in the market is a significant obstacle to business growth. With 66% of leaders seeing a shortage of IT talent, it’s clear that innovative methods are needed to attract and retain IT professionals.

What’s equally important for leaders to acknowledge is that it’s not just about hiring for technical ability. Creative thinkers, new perspectives, diverse insights and ideas – these things can matter more…and they can be as much a strategic advantage as a social imperative. In fact, 52% of IT leaders acknowledge a lack of diversity and inclusion in the industry, and not genuinely prioritizing these pillars can hinder creativity and innovation.

Offering attractive reasons for talent to want to join your company is crucial. Striking the right balance in promoting compensation packages that take into account competitive pay alongside things like ample vacation time, professional development opportunities and wellness incentives is critical…and apparently also a tough ask: 39% of IT leaders point to fair pay and compensation as a challenge in talent acquisition and retention. Businesses need to develop nuanced strategies and comprehensive offerings to ensure both current and potential employees feel they are being treated fairly and are valued.

To solve the biggest challenge of talent retention, it’s essential to examine areas where shortages in talent and skill is prevalent. Here are the IT roles in highest demand:

• IT Technicians (45%): The backbone of technical support, IT technicians are becoming scarcer, impacting organizations’ ability to maintain seamless operations.

• Cloud Computing (32%): The rise of cloud technology has created a growing demand for cloud computing specialists, making them highly sought after.

• Security Analysts and Mobile Development (27%): The growing importance of security and privacy in our digital world, and the prevalence of mobile technology, have driven demand for experts in these fields.

Strategies for Success

Take the time to explore meaningful and impactful opportunities to attract, and hold on to, top talent. Here are some things to consider:

Talent Intelligence: Make data your friend. By leveraging both internal and external data sources, organizations can identify skills gaps and craft compensation packages that are aligned with market conditions, and support business goals. Hiring talent using a strategy fueled by data enables informed hiring decisions and the agility to adapt to changing workforce dynamics.

Benefits and Incentives: Beyond compensation, emphasize comprehensive benefits and incentives. Prioritize flexibility, mental health and well-being support, and tailor benefits to diverse needs. Engage in meaningful conversations with employees, and research salary benchmarks to create compensation packages that acknowledge employee worth and strengthen employee engagement.

Reskilling and Upskilling: Invest in reskilling and upskilling programs to expand your talent pool externally and offer professional development programs for advancement and career change opportunities. Reskilling workers from similar or unrelated industries can bridge skill gaps while also helping to keep employees engaged and loyal.

Diversity and Inclusion: Tap into non-traditional talent pipelines by embracing diversity and inclusion initiatives. Collaborate with organizations, such as post-secondary schools and apprenticeship programs, championing underrepresented communities to create inclusive pathways into tech careers. Diverse teams drive innovation and better business outcomes.

Factoring in Fit: Professionals today are holding organizations to higher expectations in relation to culture, purpose, and values aligning with their own – and companies should seek to do the same. Technical skills can be taught, but human skills are harder to learn; focusing on the latter can mean not just hiring for cultural alignment, but also hiring people who are empathetic, good listeners, and collaborative teammates – these are the qualities of future leaders of the company. With over a third of IT leaders noting that changing workforce expectations is a challenge in the sector, to attract and retain valuable talent, an organization’s actions internally should match what is portrayed externally. Hiring for the person, not just the skill level, makes for better teams and a stronger organization.

The IT talent challenge is a multifaceted issue, but it’s one that businesses can overcome with a deliberate, collaborative approach. By integrating data-driven decisions and inclusive hiring practices into their core strategies, leaders can position their organizations to thrive in a competitive landscape where talent is the ultimate differentiator. The data doesn’t lie; it’s time to act and adapt.

By: Andrew Eppich, Managing Director of Equinix Canada


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