The City of Thunder Bay may have issues with finding qualified IT professionals because there is a growing shortage of them across Canada and around the world. There are many reasons for this growing shortage including an aging population that can't keep up with technological changes and having more qualified people in the workforce than there are jobs available. The lack of qualified professionals can also be attributed to the continuing high cost of education and the need for professionals with skills that are not readily available. There are a few things that the city can do to curb this problem.
Educational Institutions in Thunder Bay
Several organizations offer IT training across the country and Thunder Bay is no exception. Lakehead University offers a certificate in computer programming, and Confederation College offers an IT diploma. The city could partner with one of these institutions to develop a curriculum that would allow students to complete the degree while working in the city. The city needs to address the lack of qualified IT professionals by working with schools and colleges to see if they could offer programs that would give students the skills needed for the growing IT sector. The city needs to consider its current workforce and what their skills are. Are there qualified individuals that could be trained to work in the IT industry? Working with the schools and colleges to train qualified professionals would help the city meet its need for IT personnel.
Attracting Workers from Outside the City
A second approach to addressing the city's lack of qualified IT professionals would be to attract workers from outside of the city. There is a high demand for IT professionals in cities across Canada and the world. People are looking to Thunder Bay as an option because it is a small city with a lower cost of living. This would help with the retention of staff as well because they would be able to afford a house, raise a family and have a better quality of life.
To attract workers to the city, the city needs to do a better job of promoting itself as an attractive option for IT professionals. The city also needs to market itself for being able to offer a very stable work environment and being able to provide very good pay rates.
Taking an Aggressive Approach
The last approach to dealing with the lack of qualified IT professionals would be to take an aggressive approach. The city should try and recruit workers and train them in their facilities. Training an IT professional requires a partner and the city needs to find one. The city needs to work with an individual that has worked in the IT industry for some time and can impart knowledge about how the industry works.
Other Potential Recommendations
1. Develop a comprehensive IT training program.
2. Continue to seek partnerships with organizations that can offer IT training and development to city workers.
3. Work with educational institutes in the province and elsewhere in Canada to attract qualified IT professionals to the city.
4. Work with a partner like the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre's NWO IT Connect initiative that can offer up-to-date information on the IT industry and talent in Thunder Bay.
5. Continue to partner with other organizations to create and promote new jobs in the city's IT sector.
6. As IT professionals are hired and trained, they become assets that are able to promote the city to peers in their field.
7. Provide resources to help train staff in developing and maintaining skills that will increase their value in the job market.
8. Work with the community and industry to develop a strategy that can help ensure the City IT positions are filled. The City should work with Lakehead University and Confederation College to develop programs and degree pathways.