Imagine the labour market as a vast blank space occupied by billions of people in suits and uniforms, each performing their own little job, mostly blind to those around them. There’s someone wearing goggles and a hard hat bringing a heavy mechanical press down onto a hot mould; next to them, a cashier with a nametag bagging groceries; a gas station attendant whistles as they fill up another tank; a postal worker stuffs mailbox after mailbox with letters. You notice as you watch that these workers are disappearing one by one, often leaving rows of people quietly working on computers or laptops at their desks. In the late 2010s, there are officially more bodies than jobs—and those jobs which remain tend to require a higher level of technical education. In many ways, your choice is to learn how to operate the machines that drive the economy, or to be replaced by one.
Today we’re looking at IT jobs in Canada and how forces like automation are changing the nature of work.
A Labour Surplus?
Replacing tasks traditionally performed by humans wipes out some jobs while creating openings for many others: the machines must be programmed, tested, maintained and secured by expert technicians. These new jobs are both more scarce than those they have displaced, and more lucrative. According to a briefing by the McKinsey Global Institute, “30 to 45 percent of the working-age population around the world is underutilized—that is, unemployed, inactive, or underemployed.”[i] This translates to roughly 1 billion people.
The majority of these want or need more work, but lack the training to obtain the more specialized job opportunities that are opening up. In the example of Wilfrid Laurier University’s online Master of Computer Science program, students must have an undergraduate degree in a related field, and many already have experience in IT jobs. The degree can help those with basic skills, resources and ambition move upward into advanced professions such as the five potential careers covered here.
Trends In the IT Job Market
Per a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the IT field looks better set than most to weather the coming storm.[ii] Employers recognize the relative scarcity of talent with the credentials and experience to fill an increasing number of positions. Not only are approximately 2 million new industry jobs likely to be created in the US alone, with a commensurate knock-on effect here in Canada, 81% of employers also report being dedicated to regularly reskilling their own employees as technologies change (compared to just 65% in other industries).[iii] This is an indication that IT jobs in Canada are much more secure than most.
In IT there are more short-term job opportunities than ever before, with many MCS graduates opting to form consultancies or entrepreneurial ventures. Working on a contract basis offers fewer guarantees than traditional employment, but by betting on themselves, highly-skilled and driven IT specialists can command high rates while enjoying freedoms unimaginable to their parents’ generations.
Emergent IT Jobs
The most recent statistics have found that the following IT jobs are likely to experience the fastest growth in the near future:
- Software Developers
- Computer Support Specialists
- Computer and Information Research Scientists
- Computer Systems Architects
- Information Security Analysts[iv]
In terms of specializations, the same survey pointed to the following technologies as having the most impact on IT departments in terms of upgrading their technologies and the skills of their employees:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Digital Security
- Blockchain/Distributed Ledger
- Autonomous Vehicles
For current and aspiring IT professionals alike, the best means of meeting these industry needs is by having access to cutting-edge learning. Contact us for a brochure on Laurier’s unique 100% online Master of Computer Science program to learn more about our curriculum.