Canadian emerging technology CEOs are finding it more difficult to add new qualified employees to their payroll, according to a PwC report exploring talent management issues for the Canadian emerging technology sector. The report found 44% of CEOs listed recruiting new talent and management team members as their biggest hiring issue. What’s more, an overwhelming majority (72%) 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,” says Peter Matutat, National Emerging Company Practice Leader, 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.”
“The nature of emerging technology companies means they aren’t just seeking people with the technical know-how, but employees who are more well-rounded,” adds Matutat. “Start-up companies also highly value softer skills like creativity, an entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen.”
Tobi Day-Hamilton, director of advancement at the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus, says change needs to happen at the university level to ensure grads are equipped with the skills technology companies are looking for.
According to Day-Hamilton, “We’re seeing a skills gap in what grads learn in post-secondary and what companies are now requesting in employees. 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.”
Day-Hamilton also stresses the importance of co-op education throughout the university experience. “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 says. “The more experience you can get before graduating, the better.”
The University of Waterloo has developed new program offerings to address this skills gap issue. The university is launching its Masters of Digital Experience Innovation this September and its Bachelor of Global Business and Digital Arts next year.
For job seekers, the industry looks positive. Turnover continues to be low with 81% of CEOs reporting less than 10% turnover and close to 70% with less than 5% turnover. The primary reasons for staff voluntarily leaving their companies last year were for higher compensation and new challenging opportunities (both 21%). Involuntary staff turnover was mostly attributed to poor performance (32%) rather than cost containment (11%), and 35% of respondents indicated they had no involuntary turnover at all.