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July 28, 2017

Canada needs IT workers ~Summary of Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) Outlook Report by 2021 and Immigration trends ~

According to a ICTC Outlook Report published in April 2017 by the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) asserts that by 2021 around 216,000 critical digital talent positions will need to be filled. ICTC is a not-for-profit national center of expertise for the digital economy. The study was funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program.

5 Key Transformational Technologies

In the next several years, the following five key technologies will have the highest demand for skilled workers in the digital economy:

  • Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)
  • Fifth generation (5G) mobile technology
  • Three-dimensional (3D) printing
  • Blockchain
  • Artificial intelligence (AI).

All sectors of the economy are integrating these technologies in an effort to increase productivity and efficiency, reduce costs, generate revenues, and heighten innovation and growth.

Driven by the rapidly expanding Information and Communications Technology (IT) industry and an increasing demand for IT talent across all industries, employment in the Canadian digital economy experienced steady growth from 2009 to 2016.  Its growth rate for the 5 years between 2011 and 2016 was 2.38%, compared with that of 1.17% across all other Canadian industries.  In 2016, there were approximately 1,389,000 professionals working in the Canadian digital economy. This figure includes 487,000 IT professionals working in the IT industry, 733,000 IT professionals working in non-IT industries and approximately 168,000 non-IT professionals working in the IT industry. Employment of IT professionals and non-IT professionals working in the industry has also experienced steady growth. Between 2015 and 2016, there were 13,000 new jobs created in Canada’s IT industry.

The IT sector accounted for 4.3% of Canada’s total output of $1,676 billion as of 2016, with IT services contributing 95% to the total Canadian ICT sector’s real gross domestic product (GDP). Between 2015 and 2016, the impact of the IT sector on Canada’s GDP increased by nearly $2.12 billion to $72.4 billion total.


A skilled workforce will be crucial to our country competing and thriving globally-and this will be especially true for the Small Medium-Sized Enterprises that represent a majority of our economy. In a baseline scenario, ICTC forecasts that, by 2021, the employment rate in Canada’s digital economy will reach 1,637,000, with an average growth rate of 3.6%. By 2021, the proportion of IT workers who are working in non-IT industries will increase to 84%.
The top five IT occupations with labour shortages according to ICTC’s research are:

  1. computer and information systems managers
  2. computer engineers
  3. database analysts and database administrators
  4. computer programmers and interactive media developers
  5. graphic arts technicians

The recent 2017 Federal Budget set a strong foundation for addressing the digital skills and labour shortages. Canada must overcome talent shortages, skill gaps and the slow pace of digital adoption to ensure its continued status as a globally modern economy. The competitive pressure on employers seeking new talent in the IT sector is extremely high. In a survey done by: ICTC, more than 53% of organizations cited attracting and retaining skilled employees as one of their top human capital challenges.


In 2016, 394,000 IT professionals were landed immigrants. The IT talent supply coming from the immigration stream has experienced fast growth, with a 6.7% employment growth rate from 2009 to 2016. In comparison, growth of IT talent born in Canada was only 0.7%. With aging domestic talent and a decreasing number of youth workers in the field, attracting skilled digital workers worldwide is the immediate solution for industry leaders to grow their businesses and reduce opportunity costs caused by talent scarcity in addition to cultivating a skilled young IT Talent Supply Stream, increasing Woman and Indigenous Peoples for addressing the digital skills and labour shortages.

Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec are the three provinces that are needed the most IT workers. 

As of 2016, approximately 560,000 IT workers are employed in Ontario, which accounts for 47% of all ICT workers across Canada. In 2016, there were about 281,000 IT workers in Quebec, and about 135,000 in British Columbia.

Provinces across Canada have recognized their need for skilled IT personnel and have used their enhanced Express Entry-aligned Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) streams to select IT workers specifically. The number of candidates with IT work experience being invited to apply has increased over time. Once you are nominated through PNP, Additonal 600 points will be added toward the Express Entry registration.


The federal government recently launched a new initiative aimed at IT workers and employers known as the Global Talent Stream. This initiative aims to help innovative companies grow by ensuring they can access the highly skilled talent they need quickly.


On June 28, 2017, the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) announced that it would issue targeted Notifications of Interest to candidates who qualify for Ontario’s Express Entry Human Capital Priorities Stream and who have work experience in the IT sector. For these occupations only, the OINP lowered the required minimum Comprehensive Ranking System score below 400.

British Columbia  

British Columbia recently began conducting tech-only immigration draws through the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program.  It should be noted that BC continues to invite workers and graduates in non-tech occupations.


The Quebec Skilled Worker program aims to select candidates with the highest probability of successful economic settlement potential including the IT professionals. Quebec also has specific procedure applies to the hiring of a foreign worker in the information technology industry on a work permit.

Nova Scotia

Of the 16 occupations on Nova Scotia’s list of targeted opportunity occupations for its Nova Scotia Demand: Express Entry stream, four are IT occupations. This Express Entry-aligned stream most recently opened on July 5, reaching its intake limit within hours. The government of Nova Scotia expects this stream to open and close over the next year.


For the previous intake periods Computer and Information Systems Managers (NOC 0213) and Information Systems Analysts and Consultants (NOC 2171) were included in the International Skilled Worker – Express Entry sub-category of the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program. No job offer is required.

New Brunswick

This time last year New Brunswick was inviting certain IT professionals to submit their resume through the ‘Open Category’ of the New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program Express Entry Labour Market Stream, before potentially applying for provincial nomination under the program. Though this category stopped receiving applications on July 15, 2016, it may reopen in the future.

The Canadian economy is rapidly becoming digital and increasingly global in nature. With its favorable political and business climate, in addition to a vibrant digital ecosystem, Canada is poised to become a leader in the global digital economy. Having a steady supply of skilled talent is critical to support this fast-growing economy.

Resource:  ICTC Outlook Report 2021

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