Talent during times of digital transformation: how to build a next-gen IT workforce

If there’s one constant in the world of technology-focused organizations, it’s change. This is especially the case when it comes to talent.

Tech had the highest employee turnover of any sector, at 13.2 per cent, according to a recent LinkedIn data report. The report cited high demand and rising compensation within the industry as leading factors contributing to tech turnover. While increased wages and a wealth of new opportunities are surely positive from both an individual and industry standpoint, the result can create challenges for organizations hoping to not just attract but also retain talented technology professionals.

At the same time, technology teams are faced with the task of constantly re-evaluating skillsets in order to align with organizational priorities and prepare for trends that have the potential to alter the nature of tech jobs in the future.

At Interac, working on products and services that Canadians use an average of 16 million times daily provides a constant reminder of the value and impact their contributions have.

This week, senior tech leaders from Canada and around the world are gathering in Toronto for Elevate. Toronto is increasingly becoming a magnet for top tech talent, with CBRE noting in a new report that the city is North America’s fastest-growing tech market. With this is mind, it is useful to consider some of the ways tech leaders can plan for and navigate the change and churn that has become a hallmark of our industry.

By emphasizing purpose-driven technology, broadening our approach to skills development and balancing cultural transformation with a sense of urgency, we can continue to help propel Toronto’s tech sector further in years to come.

Purpose and engagement

With so many options available to them, today’s technology graduates and professionals are often looking at more than just the dollar figure at the bottom of a contract. Many want to work for organizations that have a clear purpose and sense of mission. More than just knowing who your customers are and what their needs are, organizations need to be able to effectively communicate internally how the products and services being developed are going to offer a richer experience or a better way of doing things that will help people in their day-to-day lives.

For the technology and operations team at Interac, working on products and services that Canadians use an average of 16 million times daily provides a constant reminder of the value and impact their contributions have. Whether it’s enhancing security protocols that support our payment network or enabling new technologies like mobile wallets, our work is driven by the fundamental purpose of enabling new ways for Canadians to transact digitally with confidence.

Skills development

Skills development is something many organizations already put an emphasis on, providing resources for employees to further knowledge in their specified areas of expertise. This approach can be effective in a world where the playing surface stays the same, but more often than not these days the lines are being redrawn, as new and transformative technologies create demands for entirely new sets of skills and abilities.

In a recent report, the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship highlighted 12 changes specific to technology that are likely to impact the future of employment in Canada-including digital ID, AI, virtual/augmented reality and blockchain. Each of these may have significant impacts on tech workforce needs across many sectors.

At Interac, we’ve taken a proactive approach to investigating these trends, with the goal of building core competencies and adjusting course when necessary.

Culture balance

As our economy and society have increasingly become digitized, it is no secret that the number of threats facing organizations, including fraud and cybercrime, has grown. With so much riding on the ability of our networks and systems to perform flawlessly and without interruption, operating with an “always on” mentality is a must. This means not only thinking of solutions to problems that may not be fully understood, but also building intelligent systems that are able to self-diagnose and heal themselves without intervention.

One of the challenges for technology groups is balancing a sense of urgency with cultural transformation-the concern being that the culture an organization settles on may not be the one you need to drive change.

Building effective culture and driving change requires emphasizing emotional intelligence and communications skills just as much as technological expertise.

By including a mix of both technical and soft skills amongst your team, you can help to ensure there is an effective alignment of both technology and culture, and ultimately ensure your organization is prepared to adopt a productive and sustainable model for innovation and change.

Peter Sweers is the Chief Technology and Operations Officer at Interac Corp. This story was provided by Interac Corp. for commercial purposes.


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