Business development and information technology have become more intertwined in recent years: an increasing emphasis is placed on IT to operate business. Many companies – large, small, and startups – have started to seek value in leveraging technology to gain business intelligence and data in today’s world, thus fostering the rapid expansion of the IT industry as well as the need for IT talent.
Our neighbour, America, has always been the most influential leader in the IT industry, being the home of numerous revolutionary IT companies, namely Apple, Facebook, Google, and those future IT legends that are in-the-making. Silicon Valley, as the centre of all the action, attracts IT talents from all over the world to pursue their ambition. Canadian talents, of course, do not escape this lure of innovation and success. An estimate of 350,000 Canadians are living in the Bay Area. They are some of the greatest minds in the industry as they often come from top Canadian universities that advocate their students to pursue such opportunities, leaving Canada with an even greater shortage of IT talent.
Canada’s IT industry struggles to build a solid foundation, as our close neighbor is also our biggest competitor at attracting qualified talent. Simply put, the Canadian IT industry lacks the right talent and enough of it. Those who have the education and expertise simply seek more promising alternatives elsewhere, especially in the US. Despite the efforts and funds of the Canadian government and policy makers to cultivate the growth of emerging IT companies, the problem persists. As IT culture starts to bloom in major Canadian cities, these cities aim to become the Silicon Valley of the North.
Take Vancouver for example: it has given birth to internationally successful IT businesses, such as Hootsuite, and it welcomes IT giants, such as Facebook, that claim Vancouver as its second home. However, with the growing industry and the ambitious goal in the blue print, the issue of talent shortage only gets more alarming.
There have been a lot of discussions on utilizing young talents from abroad to Canada as it is an approach that does not only fulfill the human resources gap, but also invites diverse perspectives into the industry. Staying true to the famous innovative and forward-looking culture characterized by the IT industry, youth leadership has started to show its enormous value as the technology giants invest all they can into youth interns, whether it is having them learn in a hands-on environment or making sure they get and give the most out of their co-op work terms.
The American Silicon Valley recognizes the potential of youth talent; that is why they are attracting our Canadian IT students and graduates. How do we tackle this crisis? The answer is not to fight back and retain that talent; it is to bring in international talent. The IT industry has not only recognized youth potential; it has also been a driving force of globalization. Young adults are the biggest innovators in the global industry, consistently creating profound influences that change the way we live. By bringing young talents from all over the world together, the Canadian Silicon Valley of the North – whether it is Vancouver or Waterloo – creates an opportunity for globally-minded individuals to contribute their perspectives and maximize the potential for Canada’s IT industry to stay competitive in the global market. Some of the top companies like Microsoft and IBM are hiring international talent – and it’s working for them.