The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) recently published a detailed research report, Digital Talent Outlook 2025. The document builds on the organization's past Digital Talent Outlooks and, with the previous one being in 2019 and pre-COVID, this new outlook is well-needed.
The complete 83-page report includes a broad overview of the Canadian economy, with a look at the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and a projection into the future. It then dives deeper into the digital economy (which they say comprises tech workers in all sectors and all workers in the tech sector), with a look at consumer behaviour trends and revealing results of a survey of 400 business leaders in Canada's digital economy. Finally, the report drills deeper to look at six key innovation areas including cleantech, clean resources, health and biotech, advanced manufacturing, agri-foods and food tech, and interactive digital media. Given all of this, it should be no surprise that Digital Talent Outlook 2025 offers an abundance of interesting conclusions and insights. Here's a high-level summary that focuses on the job market, opportunities for IT contractors, and what's expected to be the hottest skills in the coming years.
Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic
ICTC looked at data provided by Stats Canada and as well as their survey of Canadian business leaders to not only summarize the effects COVID had on our economy, but also provide some predictions of where it will go. Overall, they believe that GDP could potentially be back to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021 and have steady growth by the end of 2022. Unemployment will take slightly longer to get back to where it was.
It's no shock that ICTC found the pandemic impacted lower wage jobs more severely, and disproportionately hurt women, young people (15-24 years old) and those with less formal education. Meanwhile, the digital economy became more important to the world with the onset of the pandemic and, in fact, as of May 2021, employment in the sector was 12% higher than pre-pandemic levels!
The last 18 months saw significantly higher usage of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, and of digital tools such as cloud solutions, security software, and online collaboration tools. Digital healthcare saw a giant spike and home internet use also skyrocketed, specifically online shopping. Most companies in the digital economy had established online shopping channels before the pandemic ever hit.
Of course, not all companies in the digital economy saw increased revenues in the past year and a half, and nearly all saw the same added expenses as those companies in the general economy. But still, a significantly larger proportion of organizations in this sector feel they're better set-up for the coming months and years.
Jobs in the Canada's Digital Economy
As noted above, ICTC defines the digital economy as all jobs in the tech sector, plus the largely increasing number tech-related jobs in the non-tech sector. For instance, software developers and data scientists are now often found in sectors like finance, natural resources, healthcare, and retail.
The chart above highlights the performance of the Canadian Digital Economy over the past 15 years. We can see that the demand for technology jobs across the Country has always been high, and continues to increase, even during turbulent times.
ICTC forecasts that in the next four years, employment in the digital economy will reach 2.26 million.That works out to about 11% of all employment in Canada. In other words, the Canadian digital economy will see a demand for 250,000 additional jobs!
So what types of jobs are we looking at? This graphic, which was included in Digital Talent Outlook 2025, summarizes the top technical roles that leaders in the Digital Economy highlighted as having emerged in the past 12 months. It's not shocking that any of these jobs are on the list, and it makes sense to expect these titles to continue to be in high demand in the coming years.
In previous reports, ICTC highlighted what it believes are the six key innovation areas for the Canadian economy. To complete this Digital Talent Outlook, they reviewed the developments in each of the innovation areas and highlighted an in-demand role and its required skills. If you're a technology professional and thinking of breaking into any of these industries, here are some opportunities and their requirements:
Cleantech: Electric Vehicle Engineer (Required skills include: Matlab, C, C++, AutoCAD, Simulink, Product Development, Six Sigma Certification)
Clean Resources: Smart Grid Engineers (Required skills include: SCADA, process automation, MATLAB, C++, AutoCAD, Simulink, LaTeX)
Health and Biotech: Biostatistician (Required skills include: Data Analysis, SAS, R, Statistical Modelling, IBM SPSS, Data Mining, Data Management, Statistical Programming)
Advanced Manufacturing: Additive Manufacturing Designer (Required skills include: Product Design and Development, Adobe Creative Suite, 3D Modeling and 3D Printing, Design for Manufacturing)
Agri-Food and Food Tech: Precision Agronomist (Required skills include: Data Analysis, GIS, R, Python, GPS and agricultural knowledge)
Interactive Digital Media: Conversation Designer (Required skills include: Adobe Creative Suite, UX/UI Design, Data Analysis, Interactive Voice Response, WordPress, CSS and Copywriting)
This summary of ICTC's Digital Talent Outlook is a very small portion of an extremely detailed report with plenty of takeaways. We've focused on highlighting information for technology job seekers and, to some extent, IT hiring managers. If you'd like to learn more, you can download the report for free here.