IT worker shortage

What SHRC is doing to help close the gap in the tight IT labour market
By Joyce Hampton
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 04/07/2003

According to the Information Technology Association of Canada, approximately 20,000 jobs for skilled IT workers in Canada go unfilled every year. According to ITAC, that number is likely growing, not decreasing.

U.S. shortage

In the U.S., there are approximately 346,000 unfilled IT positions according to a 1998 study by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), Arlington, Virginia. According to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Office of Technology Policy, between 1996 and 2006 there will be a deficit of more than 1.3 million IT workers.

What Canada is doing


Software Human Resource Council

in Ottawa is working on a labour market study which will “establish a framework for the industry and a closer understanding of the skills gap,” says communications director Robin Gordon. SHRC plans to launch a communications initiative based on the study this year.

SHRC is participating in many other initiatives to help close the IT skills gap including:

Common terms:

SHRC has created a compilation of 24 job profiles that describe jobs in the software industry. The compilation is available from SHRC for $100 (in book or CD-ROM format). “For the first time it allows us to have a common dictionary of terms we can refer to,” says Gordon.

Brain drain:

gathering information about the brain drain and participating as a catalyst for partnering with other organizations in order to increase awareness and education.

Image busting:

“When you talk to young people there’s a concern that this is an industry that caters to and embraces nerds. The reality is that there are an awful lot of really cool people who work in this industry. There is also a perceived idea it’s people sitting in front of computers and that that’s about it. The reality is, it is pervasive through all industries — the film industry, the music industry, any of the arts.

Another myth is that to be a part of the industry you have to be extraordinarily well educated — that is an asset but there are other parts of it as well. Another myth is that you have to be a math whiz. The reality is we’re finding programmers are often most successful when they come from a music background — it’s something about the way they process information (that makes them good programmers).”


SHRC is speaking with the provincial and federal governments about an apprenticeship program for the industry. The research portion will start immediately and pilot studies are slated for the spring of 2001.


SHRC is partnering with the immigration department to discuss initiatives to help bring in more offshore workers.

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