Looming tech talent crisis in Canada can be addressed through next generation of students: Canada’s largest ever student-organized conference explores endless possibilities of a STEM career

CBJ Newsmakers

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, Nov. 12, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Talent is the foundation of both Canada’s rapidly expanding information, communications and technology (ICT) sector and of ICT-based innovations and capabilities in every sector of our economy. The question is not just how to meet projected demand for ICT skills: it’s how to double down on Canada’s proven ICT strengths in a competitive, complex and rapidly changing technology-driven global economy – this according to Canada’s national ICT industry association, the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC).

ITAC believes that fears of future shortages in the ICT labour market miss the mark. It isn’t about scarcity; it’s about growth, innovation and competition, and increasing Canada’s relatively low proportion of graduates emerging from STEM disciplines. Canada needs to take advantage of the opportunity to expand the ICT capabilities of its workforce in all sectors to build a thriving, equitable economy in the 21st Century, and encouraging the next generations of students to participate is key.

This is why ITAC is a proud partner of the 2018 Xplore STEM Youth Conference, being held on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at the Pearson Convention Centre (Brampton, ON) between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

The Conference, organized by Glenforest Secondary School students, will attract more than 2,000 high school students, educators, and representatives from the private and public sectors from across Canada and was created to help spread the word about the endless possibilities of today’s STEM careers. It showcases the cool technologies that are bringing innovation to everything – the environment, health care, entertainment, shopping, mobility, our social lives and much more.  

“We have an opportunity to sustain our rapid expansion, but we can’t without the right manpower – and the sector is set to face a shortage of 220,000 tech workers by 2020,” said Gina van Dalen, executive director, ITAC Talent. “This Conference is a great way – through industry and academic leaders providing sound advice, and through workshops and activities – to expose students to the limitless opportunities the STEM fields have to offer. There’s also an ongoing concern about the declining number of young women in these programs; and together this is a huge challenge – especially as Canada is becoming increasingly dependent on its digital economy.

“Encouraging students to pursue a post-secondary degree in STEM is important – not just when they’re close to graduation and picking their college or university programs – but right from grade 9,” said Diana Wang-Martin, a science and chemistry teacher at Glenforest Secondary School. “There are more than 2 million students in Ontario alone.  Despite the fact 70 per cent of Canada’s jobs require students with a STEM education, fewer than half of students are graduating with STEM courses.  Many don’t realize that they can combine their passions – including athletics, fashion design or gaming – with STEM programs and have a well-paid, fulfilling career.”

This is the third annual Xplore STEM Conference. To learn more, click here.

Participants will include: Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport; Kim Cooper, Vice President of Partnerships, First Robotics Canada; Dr. Sara Dickson, Associate Chair, Department of Civil Engineering, McMaster University; Hillary Marshall, Vice President, Stakeholder Relations and Communications, GTAA; MP Peter Fonseca; MP Marc Garneau, Minister of Transportation; Peter Joshua, Director, Peel District School Board; Maria Attarian, Customer Solutions Engineer, Google; Krista Shibata, Leader of Women in Technology Initiative, IBM;  Kristine Dawson, President, Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning…and more!   

About Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC)
As Canada’s national ICT business association, the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) champions the development of a robust and sustainable digital economy in Canada. A vital connection between business and government, we provide our members with the advocacy, networking and professional development services that help them to thrive nationally and compete globally.

A prominent advocate for the expansion of Canada’s innovative capacity, ITAC encourages technology adoption to capitalize on productivity and performance opportunities across all sectors. A member-driven not-for-profit, ITAC has served as the authoritative national voice of the $170 billion ICT industry for over 60 years. More than 36,000 Canadian ICT firms create and supply goods and services that contribute to a more productive, competitive, and innovative society. The ICT sector generates over one million jobs directly and indirectly and invests $4.9 billion annually in R&D, more than any other private sector performer.

CONTACT: To arrange an interview, please contact:
Janet Gibson Eichner
Cell: 416-357-8908 or jgibson_eichner@itac.ca