Filling technical skills gap


Filling technical skills gap

LinkedIn research identifies ‘tremendous’ opportunity




LinkedIn research has identified a major skills gap in Toronto’s technology sector, leading to the creation of “boot camps” designed to give at-risk young people the skills needed to immediately launch careers.

Since LinkedIn unveiled its Toronto Economic Graph research with CivicAction and Mayor John Tory in October, CivicAction has worked with local organizations to close the gap and help the region maintain its competitive edge.

Seneca College, NPower Canada and Bitmaker have developed accelerator programs to help fill the gap — all “practical, pragmatic manifestations” of LinkedIn’s vision of creating economic opportunities for professionals and to make them “more productive and successful,” says Jonathan Lister, LinkedIn Canada country manager.

Real-time data

“The cool thing about looking at LinkedIn and the Economic Graph is that it’s real-time data, which puts your finger on the pulse of what’s really happening in a local market,” says Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO of CivicAction

LinkedIn has 400 million members worldwide; 12 million of whom are in Canada. Of those, 2 million are located in Toronto. That gives LinkedIn information on what people do for a living, as well as their skills and education, while providing insight into the skills employers are looking for, Lister says.

The research reveals Toronto offers “tremendous” opportunity for people with tech-related capabilities and not just within the tech industry. “Opportunities are spread broadly across many industries so there are great technology jobs and roles across different sectors, including government and finance, as well as technology,” says Lister. “It’s a multi-category function and is growing fast.”

Jobs without people

At the same time, there are as many as 83,000 young people aged 15 to 24 years old not currently in education, employment or training, reports Palvetzian. “We can connect those dots and help some of those young people get IT training in jobs that need them now.”

Educational partners have tailored their curriculum to meet the needs of youth and employers. “They can literally tweak the curriculum in real time so students are trained in jobs that employers need now,” Palvetzian says.

“The success rate of that is extraordinary. The people coming out of NPower, for example, are graduating with 90% success rates and are going into either post-secondary education or jobs. Part of that statistic aligns with the fact that it’s truly what employers are looking for.”

Accelerator programs

Seneca College is launching several accelerator programs that bundle multiple tech-focused courses into short-term, intensive curriculum, focusing on mobile app development, Oracle, cloud computing, data management, web development and search engine optimization.

“We’ve focused on the skills LinkedIn has identified as part of the skills gap — skills companies are looking for,” says Denis Gravelle, chair of the faculty of continuing education and training. The programs will be offered during the day as well as weeknights and weekends.

(Seneca launches its 14-week web master program on May 9. To learn more, contact Donna Noma at or 416-491-5050, ext. 77281.)

‘Transportable’ skills

“The research demonstrates there are some opportunities for real careers and a lot of growth opportunities,” says Julie Dossett, LinkedIn Canada’s communications lead.

“It’s also immensely transportable which becomes a really important point for different generations “¦ It’s also a bit of a wakeup call to organizations about the kinds of skills they’re going to need for their business of tomorrow.”

Other accelerator programs:

  • NPower Canada added a web development and mobile app stream to its offerings of free technology and professional skills training for youth facing barriers.
  • Bitmaker, a leading technology boot camp, is exploring a new fellowship program to address youth unemployment in the Greater Toronto Area.

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