The rate of technology job openings is increasing year after year, while at the same time the number of technology grads is on the decline.
According to University of Waterloo’s Director of Alumni Affairs, Jason Coolman, the University of Waterloo computer science graduates have a 94% placement rate. Many of the computer science graduates have job offers even before they graduate. Very few university programs in today’s economy have such high placement rates, so why aren’t there more students enrolling in programs like this?
In my opinion, the disconnect arises from the post-secondary programs we recommend to our kids vs. the real job opportunities available to them once they graduate. How many parents focus on their kids becoming doctors or lawyers, when there are so many other career options out there?
According to David Ticoll, director of a corporate-created agency called the Canadian Coalition for Tomorrow’s ICT Skills, the business-technology sector alone grows by 10,000 jobs a year while university programs turn out only 2,000 information and communications technology grads each year.
By reaching out to high school kids, David Ticoll is attempting to bring students the message that technology degrees lead to cool, high-paying careers that can just about guarantee you a job when you graduate.
Hopefully, down the line more children will get this message, but what exactly is the best way to facilitate this?
Let’s Make Kids Aware of the Range of Job Opportunities in Technology
Guidance counsellors, teachers and parents need to show students all of the opportunities available: Today we have shortages of mobile application developers, security specialists, data analysts, telecom analysts, product managers, and business analysts. These are all high-paying, in-demand jobs, but how often has a guidance counsellor mentioned these careers to your child?
Let’s get kids interacting with technology, hands-on: Let give our kids an opportunity to build a website, write applications, try audio/video/image editing, and learn a programming language to give them a stronger understanding of the type of technology jobs available.
Let’s get businesses involved: There need to be a learning partnerships between corporations, governments and school boards to enable students to experience current technologies before graduating from high school. This is already happening thanks to great organizations like The Learning Partnership. Programs like this give kids the chance to build web sites, applications and plan online businesses in public school.
Run App development contests: Every high school could run an app development contest. The cost is minimal and the benefits to the students would be enormous. If you are a high school and want me to connect you with a mobile company to sponsor a contest, please reach out. Mobile companies from across Canada would be interested.
Let’s update the curriculum to match job market demands: How do we fill the gap in technology grads so that we have enough people to fill our jobs? Universities and colleges need to create programs that combine practical technology skills with business and health sciences training. People with degrees in technology combined with minors in business or health sciences will be in demand when they graduate.
Our Technology Talent is a National Resource
Canada is rich in land, water and many natural resources. We are also rich in excellent colleges and universities. Let’s work together to make sure that students learn about all of the fun, creative and rewarding tech jobs available to them. When students understand the benefits of enrolling in post-secondary technology programs, they will help fill the demand for technology specialists and possibly create another great Canadian super employer, like RIM.