Posted on 2010/11/29
The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) field, often referred to simply as the IT field, is considered to be a high growth area according to Statistics Canada. Whether you are a network administrator, network analyst, network security engineer, programmer, IT sales person or project manager, there are good prospects and demands in Canada for your knowledge and skills.
An example of such growth in the ICT field is the digital media sector which is forecasted to grow to 2.2 trillion USD by 2012. For example, the development of the Communitech Hub, an ICT centre in the Waterloo region of Ontario, will assist emerging digital media companies to create hardware and software for various industries, including manufacturing, healthcare and finance. The centre will offer state-of-the-art research, development and lab space. The Government of Canada expects that thousands of jobs could be created in emerging digital media businesses over the first five years .
For an insider view of the ICT industry, we spoke to several IT professionals in Ontario about the current labour market situation, employers’ hiring needs, and effective job search strategies for newcomers to the field. We interviewed Seymour Gladstone, Director of Business Development at Xbase Technologies, Ron Malis, Director of Information Management at JVS Toronto, and Jasvinder Dudial, Manager of Information Management at JVS Toronto. Excerpts of responses from our interviews are given below:
How has the IT field come out of the recession and how would you describe current the labour market?
“It has come out in really good shape”, said Mr. Gladstone. Ms. Dudial, agrees, “IT is a field that in the downturn has proved to be recession proof”.
Since the recession, the ICT industry has also shown a great demand for qualified people. Certification has become significant to those seeking entry and professional growth in the field. “There are millions of people who say they’re IT [therefore] it is important to be certified through the software vendors, such as Microsoft and Citrix, who provide sophisticated online training”, said Mr. Gladstone.
In terms of the current labour market, an IT consultant in Toronto suggests looking at smaller companies as starting points for newcomers to the field, “small companies are a good place to work to get your first job… [These companies] are willing to take a risk on people who do not have Canadian experience.”
What primary skills are IT employers looking for?
In the ever-changing IT industry, several of our interviewees agreed that newcomers to the field need to be able to demonstrate competency, adaptability and flexibility. Ms. Dudial says, “Knowledge of current technologies and how you can apply those to the workplace to improve efficiency and effectiveness” are key employee attributes. A consultant in the IT field also highlights the importance of being able to adjust easily to change, “things in IT change all of the time, and [employees] need to have flexibility to go with the flow.”
Mr. Malis points out that IT jobseekers need, “more than technical skills, [they need] business skills too. They need to know what internal clients are trying to achieve in their business, [and work toward] showing results for the business.”
All those interviewed also agreed that apart from technical skills, interpersonal or ‘people skills’ are in high demand by employers in the ICT industry. As Mr. Malis explains, “relationship skills do not get outdated, whereas technical skills can”. In addition to strengths such as competent, creative and flexible, Mr. Malis also stresses that he looks for employees, “who are dedicated to succeeding in their work.”
Mr. Gladstone also stresses employers’ need for customer service and written communication skills, including professional and business writing abilities.
What would you consider to be the most important strategy a newcomer to Canada can use to find employment in this field?
Ms. Dudial recommends doing your homework. “Research, find out where employers advertise and get on the mailing lists. Design searches that give you the best fit with your experience and skills set.”
Mr. Malis agrees but he also emphasizes that research should go hand in hand with networking, “build relationships with people … with anyone you know that is in the IT field”. The importance of networking to job searching is echoed by others in the field. Mr. Gladstone speaks about the significance of professional networking on social media sites such as LinkedIn which he states are, “very big in the IT world”. He suggests that newcomers to the field use social media sites to build their profiles and to diversify connections in the industry.
Mr. Gladstone also emphasizes the need for IT jobseekers to keep their skills on the cutting edge. He suggests being current with the latest technology, “it doesn’t help if the technology you are familiar with is five years out of date.” Volunteering within the industry, Mr. Gladstone explains, also keeps newcomers attuned to new developments in the field as well as “being active at the same time that you are conducting a job search.”
Networking Through Professional ICT Associations
Most working people have a professional network that includes current and past employers and colleagues. However, upon immigrating to Canada, newcomers need to build their network anew. One effective way to build your network is to connect with professional associations. An often overlooked form of networking, associations offer several benefits including monthly meetings, guest speakers, e-newsletters, list of member companies, and job boards.
The following are some provincial associations that you may wish to research for information and contacts in the ICT field:
IT World Canada
Start your networking now!
Employment Counsellor/Mentoring Coach
IPSO, JVS Toronto