Canada desperately needs tech workers. Here is a solution

Despite layoffs in recent months, tech workers are in high demand in Canada.

A look at online job postings reveals plenty of opportunities for software developers, data scientists, and other workers in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector.

There seem to be more jobs than there are people qualified to fill them. In fact, a Information and Communications Technology Council Report Last year, it was estimated that employers nationwide would need to fill an additional 250,000 tech jobs by 2025.

Where will employers find these workers?

If Canada and Canadian employers are to compete in today’s increasingly digital world, we must adopt innovative solutions that give employers access to a larger pool of highly skilled workers.

We can do this by creating flexible new pathways to post-secondary education for people who may not have previously considered or were unable to afford an education leading to a career in the high sector. technology, including Indigenous, Black, women, economically disadvantaged or otherwise marginalized.

This is what the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University in Toronto does. We have collaborated with top technology experts from the private and public sectors to design and develop a new curriculum that will provide a unique alternative to the traditional way university students learn.

These pioneers include Ceridian, CGI, Cinchy Inc., Cisco Canada, Connected, EY Canada, General Motors of Canada Company, IBM Canada, mimik Technology Inc., RBC, Saa Dene Group, Shopify, TELUS Health, Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada and TribalScale Inc.

From the fall of 2023, the School will launch a new diploma course in professional integration in Digital Technologies. It will be the first of its kind in Canada.

Students who enroll will study toward a Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) degree over four years while working full-time for the same employer. They will be able to specialize to become software developers, cybersecurity analysts or data scientists, with the knowledge, skills, experience and professionalism they need to succeed.

Like traditional university programs, students in a work-integrated degree program will earn 30 credits per year, but instead of spending all their time in the classroom, their training will include a combination of classroom learning and experience in the workplace. Approximately 20% of their working time will be reserved for theoretical learning during intensive five-day periods every six to seven weeks on campus, with the remainder of their working hours being spent in the workplace, applying and continuously integrating their academic knowledge. learn as they gain experience and contribute to their employer’s goals.

Allowing students to work and earn a full-time salary while studying makes the degree more affordable, reducing financial barriers to post-secondary education.

Whether students are recent high school graduates or experienced employees, the program will provide coaching and mentoring to help them succeed and build a network of contacts.

In addition to providing a larger pool of highly skilled workers, programs like this offer other benefits to employers. Existing employees who enroll in the program to earn a degree or develop their skills can access the latest expertise, knowledge and resources, helping to fill skills gaps in their workplace. By participating in innovative programs, employers could become a magnet for new workers with in-demand knowledge and skills.

The format of the program allows students to immediately apply what they learn in the classroom to their work, giving employers the benefit of fresh ideas with a reduced learning curve.

The program can also help employers improve their equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) initiatives by opening the door to people from groups that have not traditionally been represented in the industry. It is important, with to research showing that employers with a more diverse workforce perform better financially than those without.

Although work-integrated degree programs are new to Canada, a similar model is widely used at most UK universities. Manchester Metropolitan University, one of the main providers of this model in the UK, is expected to have more than 2,300 students enrolled in this type of program, offered in partnership with 544 employers.

A report that Manchester Met published last year showed the positive impact its work-integrated degree programs have had in helping traditionally disadvantaged groups become more socially mobile, while enabling employers to address skills shortages by finding and developing the talents they need.

Canada needs bold approaches like the Work-Integrated Degree Program to address its skills shortage in the ICT sector and help traditionally underrepresented groups succeed. Programs like the one Lassonde will offer exclusively at York University’s Markham campus have the potential to transform the future of education and employment in Canada.

Jane Goodyer is Dean of the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University.

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