CIOCAN Pledges Sustained Focus on IT Talent Throughout Recession - Critical to Recovery of Canada's Innovation Economy.



    "This is no time to be taking our foot off the gas."

    VANCOUVER, Jan. 12 /CNW/ - The Chief Information Officers Association of
Canada (CIOCAN) today released a white paper entitled "CIOs vs the IT Talent
Gap: Defining a Role for the CIO Association of Canada". National President
Andrew Dillane says "The combination of current economic conditions, and
recent national and international research on the IT Talent Gap has convinced
us that we need to act now to strengthen Canada's IT talent infrastructure.
During lean times, we need to invest our energies to ensure that a
well-crafted IT workforce is ready to take the reins when the economy turns
the corner. We need to be creative, and we need to cooperate fully with all
stakeholders so that we can close the IT talent gap to help drive Canada's
innovation economy."
    Ian Banks, President of CIOCAN's Vancouver Chapter says, "Although in the
short term there may be two to three quarter deferrals of IT projects within
many companies, there will be relatively few outright cancellations.
Innovation in IT is too critical to the competitive future of our businesses
and to the Canadian economy to be neglected. The downturn provides an
opportunity for reframing our IT talent pool - we can work with our partners
in industry, government and education to ensure that the right mix of skills
is in place for the next upswing."
    As senior executives in charge of information technology in all sectors
(business, industry, government, education), CIOs deal daily with the
realities of IT staffing shortages, particularly in areas where business
knowledge and technology expertise mesh. Spring 2008 polling within the CIOCAN
membership revealed that ninety-four percent (94%) of CIOs are having trouble
finding IT talent, and that this adversely affected their ability to execute
on IT projects or services (86%). Most said that the negative effects are
quite significant (63%). "During the past month, some members have reported
anecdotally that due to the recession, the IT talent squeeze has eased
slightly as consultants and free-lancers take full-time employment, and some
IT projects are deferred, but all of us agree that this is no time to be
taking our foot off the gas. When economic conditions shift again, it's
critical that we be ready with the right people in place, as the action will
go up another notch", says Banks.
    "We know that the IT talent gap is a very complex problem. To solve it
will require the fast-tracking of processes through which education
collaborates with business and industry; it will require revision of all kinds
of policies to allow quicker integration of immigrants, it will require
revamping of occupational standards in IT and ICT. And we don't have time to
approach this via traditional routes. We really need to get creative in the
ways that stakeholders collaborate, and in the ways that funding can be most
effectively applied. The CIO Association has an important role to play here,
as our members have the broadest cross-industry senior representation among
stakeholders. We have the agility, and we have the expertise", says Dillane.
    The CIOCAN paper calls for action on several fronts. First, CIOCAN will
collaborate fully with its partners in the IT talent drive, and will act as
executive advisor, information conduit and content provider where appropriate.
The industry-based Canadian Coalition for Tomorrow's IT Workforce, the
federally-funded ICTC (Information and Communications Technology Council), the
CATA (Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance), and several other related
associations such as CIPS and ITAC, are all working on different aspects of
the IT Talent Gap, and are piloting solutions. The CIO Association now has
board or governing council representation in the first three groups and will
reach out to the others to share research and expertise in support of the
common cause. Second, CIO Association members will work within their own
organizations to ensure that optimum strategies for attracting and retaining
IT talent are employed. "There are excellent resources and knowledge on
attracting and retaining IT talent available within our member organizations",
says Dillane. "CIOCAN plans to draw out best practices through regular
membership surveys, and e-seminars, package them into micro-formats that can
be easily used and distributed within our membership, and then share them with
our advocacy partners for distribution". Third, CIOCAN members will get more
active in their local communities, becoming involved with high schools,
universities and chambers of commerce to showcase the exciting and lucrative
opportunities that open up when students are tech-educated. "IT expertise
applies across all fields and industries", says Dillane. "From the film
industry to aircraft design to forensic police-work, to medical research,
creative people who have some technological background and know how to apply
it to solve business and social problems are in high demand. Young people need
to know that they can change the world with IT. CIOCAN will put feet on the
street to get this message out".
    To see the full paper "CIOs vs the IT Talent Gap", go to www.ciocan.ca





For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts: Judy Waller, (604) 904-5777,
admin@ciocan-national.ca

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CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER ASSOCIATION OF CANADA

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