IT Talent Wars
Historically, the debate has been over the rapid evolution of technology, and now the focus is moving to the IT talent – the people responsible for architecting, developing, testing, managing and supporting it. There is a shift happening in how companies hire, motivate, and use IT talent.
Further complicating the rivalry for IT talent is the highly debated future of work. The demographics of the workforce – and the way they want to work – are shifting dramatically. Highly prized talent entering the workforce are choosing non-traditional career paths. The rise of the so-called “gig economy” has empowered workers to maximize their freedom and choose workplace flexibility with pay.
The War for Technical Talent – Over 1,000 Job Openings
There is an outright battle being waged for IT-related talent in B.C. It has estimated that there are currently anywhere between 1,000 to 2,000 technology-related job openings in B.C. By now, the story is a familiar one: a small number of people possess in-demand technical skills, and human resources must create a compensation package compelling enough to attract and retain these highly prized employees. Recruiting and retaining IT talent is such a significant key to success that many organizations have dedicated a larger spend every year in an effort to bridge the talent gap.
Tech Start-ups Compete with Big Players for IT Related-Talent
The technology industry is transforming B.C.’s economy due to the rapid expansion of Vancouver based technology companies along with the local expansion of global companies such as Amazon and Sony Picture Imageworks.
The sector occupies almost 40% of downtown Vancouver commercial real estate and employs 90,000 people. It is B.C.’s third largest sector, just behind real estate and construction.
The close proximity of B.C. to U.S. markets such as Seattle and Silicon Valley is a major growth driver. Global leaders like Microsoft have recently opened a 142,000 sq. ft., $100 million new Vancouver office, which consolidates their Vancouver workforce. Microsoft chose Vancouver because of: the quality of talent, thanks to training and education at B.C. institutions; the ability to bring in foreign workers; and the proximity to Microsoft’s global headquarters.
Narrowing the Talent Gap with Homegrown Talent
It can be a real challenge to convince people to come into Vancouver’s tech hub – in part because of high housing prices. The talent crunch at home has forced expanding Vancouver tech companies to hire outside of Vancouver and open satellite offices.
Members of the B.C. technology industry and community are focussing on building the talent pool. The B.C. government launched a multi-year #BCTECH Strategy with “talent” as a key strategic pillar, which involves revamping the curriculum for K-12 in math and sciences including computer coding/computational learning for K-9.
Science World continues to engage students with a variety of programs such as “Future Science Leaders” with participants like Austin Wang – Wang beat out over 1,700 other students from across the globe to take the top prize of USD$75,000 at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair – the World’s largest pre-college science fair.
Competing for IT Talent
Technology has become so woven into the fabric of businesses that competition for IT-related talent is not just a game played by technology, gaming, wireless and clean tech companies but also by financial services, government and other key sectors in B.C. With larger numbers of this necessary talent wanting to maximize their freedom and choose workplace flexibility with higher pay, the widening talent gap makes it crucial for businesses to engage with not only their current workforce, but also their future workforce. Forming and maintaining relationships with key talent will be just as key to success as maintaining relationships with clients.
Cheryl Slusarchuk is a Partner at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP. She practices in the areas of financings, mergers and acquisitions, and commercialization arrangements for technology, clean technology and renewable energy companies with an emphasis on US/Canada cross-border and international transactions.
Cheryl serves on the board of the British Columbia Innovation Council and Science World of British Columbia. She has also served as President of the BC Premier’s Technology Council, Chair of the Green Energy Advisory Taskforce, and Chair of the Climate Action Team.
Ms. Slusarchuk received her Bachelor of Laws from McGill University, her J.D. from Chicago Kent-College of Law, is licensed to practice law in Colorado, Illinois, British Columbia and Ontario, and previously practiced in Sydney, Australia.
There is an outright battle being waged for IT-related talent in B.C.
Other Articles in this Issue:
A Welcome, an Update and an Announcement
By Don Safnuk, Corporate Recruiters Ltd.
Stock Options as Compensation
By Paul J. Leedham, CPA, CA, CGA, Partner, Manning Elliott LLP