By Jeremy Wubs, Senior Vice President, Product, Marketing and Professional Services for Bell Business Markets

Thriving amid Canada’s tech talent shortage

With today’s tight labour market, rising customer demands, fast-evolving cyber threats and shifting regulatory requirements, it’s harder than ever to find and maintain all the skills a business needs in-house. Many Canadian business leaders I’ve spoken with are in desperate need of talent to scale their operations, support digital transformation, and keep their operations safe and compliant.

One way for businesses to find the talent and skills they need is by retraining existing staff. It’s a common strategy, and one we embrace at Bell. Our internal career growth and education programs are designed to fill high-demand, tech-focused roles in key areas like security, business intelligence, data sciences and cloud computing. But given that Canada’s digital economy will face demand for 250,000 additional tech jobs by the end of 2025,1 retraining alone won’t be enough.

Addressing Canada’s IT skills shortage

Skill gaps affect businesses of every size and in every sector. Almost 80% of Canadian organizations say they need workers with digital skills,2 while at least 55% of Canadian tech entrepreneurs can’t find the talent they need to grow.3 Widening our talent pool is essential.

Much work is being done on that front, including through partnerships like the one that produced the Bell-Western 5G Research Centre, a place for technological innovation and a training ground for much-needed talent.4 But how can businesses address the gaps in skills they require? Fortunately, there are other ways to bridge these needs in your organization.

Embrace automation

Automation can help simplify tasks or even eliminate manual processes, freeing your staff to focus on other critical areas of your business. Security, operational efficiency and your network are a few key areas where automation can really make an impact.

As I noted when I wrote about protection and compliance, maintaining a secure and compliant IT environment is a resource-intensive task requiring constant vigilance and swift response. Advanced security solutions can proactively identify attacks, streamlining responses by delivering essential information to security analysts. Some platforms – like Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM) – automatically handle routine matters so staff can focus on more urgent or high-priority security issues while maintaining the same level of protection.

Operational automation can be as simple as an IoT sensor that initiates actions or processes based on pre-defined thresholds and milestones. Alerts can be set to go to whomever needs to see them, sorted and ranked by urgency, taking the burden of monitoring off your staff’s shoulders. Other solutions can automatically process and analyze collected data, delivering insights that can support resource planning and operational optimization. Some IoT platforms are delivered as a service, leaving you with more capital by shifting sizable upfront investments to ongoing operating expenses.

At the network level, there are solutions you can deploy to automate and simplify management. An SD-WAN solution, for example, can intelligently route mission-critical traffic to the most appropriate connectivity type for optimal performance and bandwidth usage.

Find partners to augment your operations

Specialized partners can help overcome skill gaps (especially temporary ones). In addition to timely assistance, this can also lead to cost savings compared to hiring new staff or moving and training people from another part of your business. But how do you determine which tasks and processes to contract out and which to maintain in-house?

One approach is to tighten the focus on your core business, which can highlight opportunities to bring in partners for non-core activities. For example, a retailer or mining company is not in the business of setting up video security monitoring systems or maintaining IoT devices. It’s simply not their main focus. Such tasks are prime candidates for outsourcing, while all the skills the core business requires are best cultivated in-house when possible.

Then there are the tasks you could theoretically do yourself but require significant time and money. Imagine that you’re planning to equip every truck in your fleet with IoT sensors to monitor temperature-sensitive shipments. You would most likely install those sensors in phases, coinciding with routine maintenance checks or other regular vehicle downtime. Depending on the size of your fleet, however, this approach could require significant planning and take resources away from other functions. Plus, it could be a long time before the rollout is complete. Alternatively, a partner with the right expertise and scale could do the upgrade quickly and during off hours without affecting your operations, minimizing the impacts to your business.

Instead of contracting out entire tasks or processes, another option is to augment your in-house team with external help. For example, you might seek a partner who can come in and assess your IT environment, identify opportunities for automation, and help your team turn data and analytics into actionable outcomes and trends. For protection and compliance, a strong security partner could help you mount a stronger security posture without overtaxing your in-house resources.

But where can you find expert help you can trust?

Partnering to address your skill gaps

Rather than spending time and resources training and retraining staff, you can count on Bell’s broad expertise and deep experience to manage your IT environment, freeing your own staff to focus on other critical areas in your business.

We offer expertise across network, IoT, cloud and security to augment your in-house IT team and address your most pressing skill gaps. Our national team includes 3,000 networking experts, 700 certified security professionals, and another 3,000 experts in voice and unified communications. We have the bench strength to help achieve your business outcomes, backed by extensive experience and more than 197 top cloud certifications. Our professional and managed services can also help assess, design, implement and support tailored, integrated solutions to enable your business transformation and growth.

With Bell as your partner, you can focus on your business with confidence – knowing you have access to our skills and certifications to help you innovate and grow.

Sources :
1. Ivus, M; Kotak, A. Onwards and Upwards –- Digital Talent Outlook 2025. Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC). August 2021. Ottawa, Canada.
2. KPMG. Canadian Businesses Struggling to Find Skilled Talent: KPMG Survey - KPMG Canada. August 31, 2021.
3. Business Development Bank of Canada. Tech Industry Outlook. What’s Next for the Technology Sector in Canada: BDC Study. January 2022.
4. BCE. Western partners with Bell on 5G research initiative. June 2020.

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