Immigration feeding ICT sector growth

Guest Contributor
July 23, 2007

Canada's information and communications technology (ICT) sector, while modest by global standards, is a significant contributor to the Canadian economy, with more than 32,000 firms employing nearly 600,000 people and contributing $52.3 billion to GDP in 2005. But falling university enrolment and a tightening international labour market are placing increasing importance on immigration to meet industry requirements.

According to the latest survey by the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) (formerly Software Human Resource Council), only 10% of the ICT workforce is composed of internationally educated professionals (IEPs). In contrast, IEPs accounted for 70% of the growth of the entire Canadian labour force.

Between 2002 and 2005, university enrolment in computer engineering, computer science and software engineering decreased 11%. With an ICT unemployment rate of just 1.9% (compared to the national average of 6.1%), immigration is seen as key to meeting future growth.

Ironically, most ICT employers do not see hiring IEPs to be important to their organizations. The decision by Microsoft to open a Vancouver development centre may change that and attract other foreign-based ICT firms to establish Canadian operations.

"This will help other countries notice that Canada is building a strong R&D base," says Lynda Leonard, senior VP of the Information Technology Association of Canada. "We have a great talent pool and a justifiable cost equation for conducting R&D. We need to find the qualitative difference."


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