Keeping the right digital talent is key to Edmonton's recovery: report

Keeping the right digital talent is key to Edmonton's recovery: report

· The Pulse

Edmonton is well-placed to contribute to a digital-led recovery from the pandemic, but more needs to be done to attract and retain young talent, says a report on Alberta's post-COVID future.

"With a relatively young population and growing clean tech industry, Edmonton is on a positive growth path," says A Resilient Recovery: Alberta's Digital-Led Post-COVID Future, released in June by the Ottawa-based Digital Think Tank by ICTC. "Edmonton has a spirit of collaboration that continues to set it apart from other major metropolitan areas."

But many of the graduates emerging from Edmonton's post-secondary institutions with tech degrees — of which there were 5,522 between 2015 and 2020 — seem to be unaware of the opportunities for work here, interviewees indicated, calling for further collaboration among industry, governments, and academia to fill employment needs.

Interviewees also noted a gap in the "skills needed to both design innovative products and 'translate between the "tech" and "business" sides of companies.'" An analysis of transferable skills in job postings indicated significant interest in digital design.

Edmonton's digital economy talent pool is growing at a faster rate than Calgary's, but remains smaller, the report says, with roughly 34,500 tech workers in Edmonton in 2020 compared with 46,700 in Calgary. Software engineers, project managers, and business analysts are in demand, while interest in hiring IT support workers declined sharply between 2020 and 2021.

The Edmonton-based contributors to the report include Stewart Cook, dean of NAIT's School of Applied Sciences and Technology; Randy Duguay, CEO of Health Gauge; James Keirstead, president of Levven Electronics; Connie Stacey, CEO and founder of Growing Greener Innovations; Celia Wanderley, chief customer officer and head of AltaML Invent at AltaML; and Catherine Warren, CEO of Innovate Edmonton.

There's much more in the report, including a look at the promise of and impediments to growing the health-tech sector.

Photo: The research arm of the Information and Communications Technology Council analyzed job postings in Edmonton to determine the most in-demand digital economy occupations in 2020 and 2021. (Digital Think Tank by ICTC)