Growing IT skills gap between post-secondary, on the job: PwC

CEOs having difficulty recruiting new talent, management

Canadian emerging technology CEOs are finding it more difficult to add new qualified employees to their payroll, according to a report by PwC.

Forty-four per cent of CEOs listed recruiting new talent and management team members as their biggest hiring issue, found the survey of 160 CEOs from the 2011 Report on Emerging Canadian Software Companies. The majority (72 per cent) either don't have a talent management strategy in place or aren't sure if their existing strategy is effective.

"It is interesting to hear that IT entrepreneurs are challenged with finding qualified people," said Peter Matutat, national emerging company practice leader at PwC. "At the heart of the issue may be that IT grads are coming out of school with a skill set that isn't quite what employers are looking for."

Change needs to happen at the university level to ensure grads are equipped with the skills technology companies are looking for, said Tobi Day-Hamilton, director of advancement at the University of Waterloo, Stratford, Ont., campus.

"We're seeing a skills gap in what grads learn in post-secondary and what companies are now requesting in employees,” she said. “In recent years, we found students were specializing in one area of technology, which meant grads were lacking general business and creativity skills. Increasingly, these are attributes that are becoming must-haves for many employers."

Co-op education throughout university is also a very sought after by employers.

"Employers want new hires to come in and hit the ground running, which is difficult to do if you don't have the practical experience," she said.

Turnover in the industry continues to be low, with 81 per cent of CEOs reporting less than 10 per cent turnover and close to 70 per cent less than five per cent turnover. The primary reasons for staff voluntarily leaving organizations last year were for higher compensation and new challenging opportunities (both 21 per cent).

Involuntary staff turnover was mostly attributed to poor performance (32 per cent) rather than cost containment (11 per cent), and 35 per cent of respondents indicated they had no involuntary turnover at all.

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