Pipelines have long been the lifeblood of a vibrant energy industry but these days the “talent pipeline” is equally as critical to a growing Calgary economy.
Our challenge as a city will be to fill this pipeline with people possessing the skills required as innovation and unprecedented technological advances create new employment opportunities across all sectors of our economy.
At a time when data is considered to be “the new oil” – a transformative force in society – Calgary needs a workforce to take on the jobs emerging in today’s information economy. Innovation will be the driving force for growth in energy, agribusiness, logistics, and all of our major industrial sectors.
The urgent need to develop this talent pipeline was the focal point for Mary Moran, President and CEO, Calgary Economic Development, in her address to business and community leaders at the annual Report to the Community.
There is a “skills gap” to be addressed if Calgary wants to take its rightful place in the new economy and lead the industrial transformation.
Whether helping local companies to grow, assisting major industries to embrace digitalization, pitching companies to locate here, or luring back digital divisions of local companies that have had to set up elsewhere in Canada, there is a common theme for employers.
“They all cite the same issue – talent, talent, talent,” Moran says.
Tech talent is a global challenge but Calgary lags other cities in Canada and the world. We have one of the highest municipal unemployment rates in the country and yet there are more than 2,000 jobs open for software developers, data scientists and other tech jobs.
The digitalization of energy and other sectors is making Calgary companies increasingly big players in big data, blockchain, artificial intelligence and other technologies.
Talent is critical in this environment, which is why it’s one of the four pillars of the economic strategy, Calgary in the New Economy, along with place, innovation and business environment. The goal of the strategy is for Calgary to be the destination for talent in Canada.
The three “Rs” of the talent strategy are recruit, retrain and retain.
Calgary Economic Development is working to recruit top talent and key companies to drive the growth of our ecosystems. The Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute’s (Amii) announcement it will open a new office here is the type of investment that is a magnet for talent and companies.
We must also grow our skill sets through changes to post-secondaries and continuous learning to keep up with technology. The $50 million from the Alberta government for 3,000 new tech spaces at post-secondaries in Alberta is a start to building a sustainable pipeline.
Calgary Economic Development is also helping to facilitate retraining of people for tech jobs through post-secondary institutions and private initiatives like EvolveU, Inception University and Lighthouse Labs.
We are also focused on ensuring this is a city where people want to live so we retain our top talent – the people in the workforce and graduates from our post-secondaries all need to see Calgary as a place to make a living and a life.
The opportunities for Calgary are in the pipeline.
Updated (March 27, 2019):
Calgary Economic Development, in partnership with the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), has released the findings of its Digital Skills Gap Studyand launched an online platform for displaced Oil and Gas professionals and employers.