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Diversity – The competitive edge: Implications for the ICT labour market

Rapid technological change, globalization, the demand for skills and education, an aging workforce and greater diversity in the labour market have forever changed the employment landscape. Demographic shifts, the growing participation rates of women and the increased reliance on immigration, in particular, have shaped the Canadian workforce. The talent war has become the single most important competitive issue in virtually every sector and has been a particular issue for employers needing skilled Information and Communication Technology (ICT) workers. Without a talented workforce, Canadian businesses cannot effectively compete. The Royal Bank of Canada has noted that From an economic point of view, how well Canada continues to meet the challenges of diversity will determine our future success in attracting talented immigrants as global competition for talent intensifies with the aging of Western societies…in the face of potential labour shortages, employers will miss out on opportunities for growth unless they recognize the potential of all groups in Canadian society (RBC, 2005). Leading companies are leveraging diversity to achieve their corporate goals. There is growing evidence that providing equitable opportunities for under-represented groups such as women, visible minorities, aboriginal peoples and the disabled produces tangible benefits to corporations, although it does require a long-term, integrated and strategic approach. Large public companies, governments and banks have tended to lead the way in implementing strategies to leverage diversity. Benefits that they have identified as a result include recruitment and retention of highly qualified workers, better alignment with diverse global markets, increased creativity and productivity, and higher overall corporate performance. In spite of the long-term advantages, many employers are not taking full advantage of Canadas diverse workforce. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which often have more limited resources, less flexibility and shorter planning horizons tend not to pay as much attention to human resources planning and management, at their peril. Canadian women have made great strides in the workplace, but still face a glass ceiling and are under-represented in management positions and some professions. Indeed, while female participation in law, medicine, business and even engineering has increased dramatically, female participation in computer science has actually declined. Canadas track record on successfully integrating internationally educated professionals (IEPs) into the workforce is also slipping. March 2007 Diversity The Competitive Edge: Implications for the ICT Labour Market A report submitted to the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) Although IEPs are better educated in general, they have higher rates of unemployment and lower rates of career success compared to other Canadians. Although it is not widespread at this time, there is evidence that many well- qualified IEPs who believe that their opportunities here are limited are leaving Canada and, in some cases, returning to their place of origin as those economies grow (Rao, 2001). The Royal Bank of Canada has estimated that there is a significant economic cost associated with failing to ensure internationally-born workers and women achieve their full potential.