Published: October 31st, 2016

It is up to the channel, in addition to Microsoft, to help drive innovation in Canada, according to Microsoft Canada channel chief Jason Brommet.

“The channel in Canada has an incredible role and responsibility to help drive innovation in the country, and I do firmly believe that it is part of our role at Microsoft to enable them with the tools and skills to be able to go and do that,” said Brommet when he sat down with CDN at the Microsoft Tech Summit in Toronto this week.

Canada continues face ICT talent shortages due to job growth outpacing the supply of graduates, and the skills gap between what prospective applicants have, and what the increasingly cloud-based industry requires, and partners throughout the channel are feeling it. “We all have to invest in really skilling up to be able to take advantage of this technology, and the channel can drive that change,” Brommet said.

Microsoft Canada channel chief Jason Brommet
Microsoft Canada channel chief Jason Brommet

One option could be investing in current employees. Canadian financial service company, ManuLife Financial, has made efforts to retrain its employees in order to meet the demand for IT professionals with the skills necessary to handle ManuLife’s cloud-based future. Doug Schneider, ManuLife senior vice president and global CTO told reporters at the Tech Summit that he has not let anyone go, and instead focused on retraining employees who don’t have these skill sets.

While the channel can do all it can to push innovation further, the government needs to have a hand in play as well. “How we think about making cloud technology intrinsically embedded inside the education system is something we all as an ecosystem need to support. I think about diversity and the lack of women in the workspace. We don’t see enough women in the industry, or enough women choosing to take this career path. Part of what we have to do is break down those barriers because they do represent a sizable part of Canadians,” Brommet said.

The overwhelming majority on the show floor of the Tech Summit when asked about the skills gap put emphasis on the lack of education programs in Canada that provide potential applicants the skills necessary to enter the workforce to begin with. Educating students so that they are aware of these jobs and can plan for these careers is key.

When asked about the subject, and executive on the floor told me about how his son went into game development, an over saturated industry by all accounts, but with little training could translate those skills into what channel partners may need. Bringing awareness to young talent about the possibilities in Canada will be an important factor moving forward, and one that both the government and the channel can work together to meet.

“We have got to get more people involved in IT because the potential is incredible. We are running into that skills gap, and the only way we are going to close that is by starting to skill people earlier and faster on those core technologies,” Brommet added.


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