Labour and Skills Shortages Within Contract IT: Part 3

A lot of companies are moving away from the traditional model of hiring teams on a full-time basis simply because their skill requirements are so specific, that contract positions make more sense.


Hiring on contract allows a company to pivot a little or change course entirely, without having to completely revisit their staffing position. That said, the shortage of qualified candidates for tech / IT positions is real, in both full-time and contract roles.

“As the Canadian business landscape rapidly digitizes, a shortage of skilled labourers continues to hinder its growth potential. A new report published on April 12 by the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) indicates that Canada will need to fill approximately 216,000 technology-related positions by 2021, up from 2015 predictions of 182,000 by 2019.” (Source)

The really interesting part of the study was the finding that 53% of tech professionals were working in non-tech industries. Tech is pervasive in every industry and sector, from construction to health care, from retail services to science.

So with such great demands for skilled IT workers in virtually all industries, not just the tech sector, it’s no wonder that there is a shortage.

Contract Work in Tech Arena Is Becoming Standard

“The rise of the gig economy is now also reshaping the employment landscape into a more autonomous, freelance, and globally mobile workforce. Previous industrial revolutions were marked by a net positive change. The demarcation lines between business and ICT occupations are also rapidly blurring in an environment where the future of work is increasingly digital.” (Source)

Workers with the right skills are in demand and can pick and choose their work environments, even the country in which they’ll settle, to suit their personal wants and growth potential.

Luckily, tech hubs like Toronto and Vancouver make Canada a welcome proposition from a lifestyle and work option point of view, both for retention of qualified individuals and having more arrive from other countries who want to live and work here.

Specific Technical Areas of Shortage

ICTC’s report suggests that there are 5 areas of growth that are currently or will experience shortages in qualified labour:

  • VR and AR (Virtual and Augmented Reality)
  • 3D Printing
  • Blockchain
  • AI (Artificial Intelligence)
  • 5G Mobile Technology

These areas aren’t just in the areas of engineering either, with needs ranging to include roles such as graphic design/artists, technical sales, technicians and more.

While Toronto and Vancouver do have advantages when it comes to attracting talent, the shortage in these areas, among others, is nationwide. The goal for any company that is competing for talent needs to be to reduce hiring lead time, find those individuals who can hit the ground running, and close the gap between the skills they need and delays in hiring. With that in mind, skilled contract IT workers will be in very high demand, for some time to come.

The skills gap alluded to is one that can be remedied, however, by encouraging STEM educational resources to work in lockstep with industry innovators, to better understand the technological/digital needs of all industries, going forward.

“The hallmark of success in this environment is equipping Canadians with the relevant technical skills to innovate, adopt technologies, and produce higher-value goods and services… This will empower a more dynamic economy based on our ability as a nation to intensify investments in infrastructure and [research and development], diversify our industries, and expand trade.” (Source)


This blog is part 3 in a 3-part series on The Tech Industry in Canada: Largest Growing Market.

Read Part 1: How The Gig Economy Is Changing The Canadian Tech Industry

Read Part 2: The IT Talent Landscape in Vancouver and Toronto

Photo by Farzad Nazifi on Unsplash