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Mapping calgary’s digital future: Tech employment opportunities for displaced workers

Calgary is a significant employer for the province of Alberta. Responsible for more than 30% of all employment in the province during 2016 and 44% of the province’s tech workers10, the economic strength of the city cannot be understated. Other sectors, such as oil and gas, are beginning to utilize technology to help shape efficiencies, increase productivity and propel economic growth. Notable examples include shifts like the automation of drilling rigs, the use of underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) in oil and gas extraction, and the increasing reliance on data analytics to influence decision-making. In short, technology is quickly changing our economy, bringing with it the demand for digital talent. Calgary possesses a wealth of highly-skilled talent with backgrounds like engineering and science; however, with the significant job loss during the recent economic recession, many of these workers are now looking for new opportunities in the technology sector. In early 2017, Calgary Economic Development, in partnership with Rainforest Alberta and the Alberta Ministry of Labour, launched an event called PivotTECH. The purpose of the event was to help highlight opportunities for these highly-skilled workers in the technology sector, while simultaneously providing insight to employers about the skills of this talent base 11. This event was considered a critical starting point for connecting highly-skilled job-seekers with employers seeking skilled talent. The key conclusion of this event was that many of the city’s displaced workers appear to have an interest in transitioning – or œpivoting – to in-demand occupations like software development, however are unclear of the steps to take when it comes to making the transition. No other Canadian city has the wealth of highly-skilled STEM educated talent that Calgary has. Assisting this talent with finding pathways into in-demand roles, while highlighting their existing skillsets to employers, can be a key anchor in supporting meaningful employment for Calgarians. Strategies like these move the city ever closer to strong economic diversification and ultimately, a healthy, sustainable and reliable economic future. By engaging with employers across Calgary’s economy, this report showcases the most indemand digital occupations in the city, along with their corresponding skill needs. At the same time, the report also provides a fact-based and detailed skills analysis of the city’s highly-skilled displaced workers. The results of this study will be incorporated into a web platform that will be developed by ICTC and Calgary Economic Development in early 2019 to educate displaced Calgarians on how to make the transition to high-tech opportunities.