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Technological Drivers for Change & Strategies to Develop Digital Talent

In today’s ever-changing business environment, disruptive technologies and innovation are driving organizations to adapt their strategy to their surroundings. Those that do will benefit from improved processes and increased output while others will follow the course of Blockbuster, Kodak, and many other past industry juggernauts.

The key resource for disruptive innovation is technological talent, of which Canada and the world are facing an increased shortage and according to the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), Canada will face over 200,000 vacant high-skill tech jobs by 2020 (ICTC, 2017). In order to develop a better understanding of the situation, we will take a closer look at what is driving the demand for global tech talent, here are:

5 Key Transformational Technologies Driving Demand for Tech Talent

  1. Virtual and Augmented Reality – expected to be a $150 B market by 2020 and thought to be as “game-changing as the advent of PC.”
  2. 5G Mobile – the global value chain for 5G is expected to support 22M jobs and contribute $3.5 T by 2035.
  3. 3D Printing – also known as additive manufacturing (AM), estimates suggest 3D printing could generate a world-wide economic impact of $230 to $550 B per year by 2025 based on cost reductions and the value-added benefits of customization.
  4. Blockchain – used widely in the financial sector, blockchain is being implemented outside the world of finance. Retail giant Walmart has already begun utilizing IBM’s blockchain-based systems to identify and recall food products from its inventory lists.
  5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) – despite still being in its formative stages, AI will be used extensively in nearly all fields and have a global economic impact between $7 and $13 T by 2025.

Having identified a few disruptive technological drivers for digital demand, let us identify some tools Canada can use to foster the education and development of its work force, here are:

3 Strategies to Increase Canada’s Digital Talent Base

  1. Nurturing a strong talent pipeline and strengthening digital literacy and skills for Canadians
  2. Building labour mobility pathways and partnerships to fill high demand occupations
  3. Attracting and retaining global digital talent (ICTC, 2016)

As life-long learners we can appreciate that education is the first step towards developing any skill. With regards to digital competency, Canada should be investing in its learning institutions and work force by fostering digital literacy, adoption, and upskilling programs. Following that, partnerships between SMEs and higher education are the next step and will enable the transfusion of education into practical, work-based experience. Finally, Canada and its business sector need to work diligently to attract and retain their skilled tech talent through proper monetary incentives, engaging work environments, and continuous professional development. Lastly, it is essential to add these elements to future iterations of the federal Innovation and Skills Plan.

The impact of these disruptive technologies on the Canadian economy is immense even by the most conservative of estimates. As a nation with a small population and service-based economy, developing a talent pipeline by investing in education at all levels is essential if the country wishes to realize the economic upside of emergent technologies like AI and advanced manufacturing.