Quebec's labour market has seen tumultuous times, impacted by job losses, a shrinking workforce, and continued pandemic uncertainty.
In April 2021, Quebec was leading in Canada in its vacant positions, recording over 195,000 unfilled jobs. While the labour shortage affects all industries, it's being felt in some more than others, with hospitality and retail the worst hit. Quebec's tech sector fared better. With most tech jobs untethered to the office, the sector was more prepared than most to navigate the rise of remote working and repeated lockdowns.
The biggest challenge facing the Quebec tech industry going forward is keeping pace with its growth. With Montreal and Quebec City emerging as tech talent hubs, demand for skilled tech professionals will only increase – and this means more competition among firms looking to hire the best software developers, coders, and programmers.
Recruiting that talent will take more than an attractive financial package. Organizations that prioritize talent in their efforts to build a diverse and inclusive workforce will have the edge over their competitors.
Finding talent in Quebec
The most successful hiring managers think of themselves as talent managers. When it comes to recruitment, they focus on talent, not ticking boxes. A potential hire may have a few gaps in their resume, but their skills and ability can put them ahead of other candidates with their impressive work experience history. Employees with the willingness and aptitude to learn are invaluable assets for your organization.
Of course, finding your people isn't always easy. Attending events, making your brand and operations more visible, and connecting with external recruitment agencies can all help.
Once the applications start flooding in, there are decisions to be made. Screening candidates is crucial, but it's important to avoid common pitfalls such as ageism.
Companies overlook older workers at their peril. These experienced employees may not be as malleable as their younger cohorts, but they have a lot to offer in terms of their reliability, conscientiousness, and wisdom. Mid-career Gen-Xers (those aged 45 or above) are the most overlooked employee bracket, according to a recent study. Against the backdrop of an ageing workforce and ongoing labour shortages, it's time to engage these undervalued assets.
Aside from their many positive attributes, older workers add variety to a company's workforce, contributing to cognitive diversity by bringing a different approach, outlook, and perspective to their team.
Without that diversity, companies can stagnate. Having multiple voices helps teams work faster and more efficiently. But diversity doesn't stop at age. There's been an active push in recent years to increase inclusivity across all hiring practices and avoid discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, or ethnicity.
Some of this impetus comes from the government, with companies tweaking their practices to align with new regulations, but it also stems from the private sector as organizations see the benefits for themselves. According to a 2017 study, inclusive teams demonstrate better and faster decision-making, delivering better results for their organizations. And with the appetite for ESG investing growing, diversity and inclusion are fast becoming top priorities for almost all organizations.
Given that Quebec's workforce is struggling to meet demand in the tech sector, it's not surprising that many hiring employers are looking beyond provincial and national borders.
Quebec released its latest immigration plan in October 2021, outlining its goal of welcoming up to 52,500 new residents in 2022. Foreign skilled workers can apply for a Quebec Selection Certificate through the Regular Skilled Workers Program, which assesses applicants based on their education, experience, and offer of employment. These newcomers and their employers may qualify for incentives and support programs, including integration services and training costs.
Tech employers should also consider looking closer to home, hunting across provincial lines as tech professionals who live in Montreal and Quebec are snapped up. With the nature of tech work lending itself to remote workspaces, these jobs can be done from any province. Some tech workers in Canadian mid-sized cities are underpaid due to their geographic location and may be looking to make a switch to a payscale more in line with their skillset. These workers are an untapped resource that is currently being underserved by current employers who still believe in tying wages to location – this puts them in an ideal position to make a switch to a more forward-thinking business based on salary alone.
Recruitment is a drain on a company's resources, so the last thing any firm wants is high employee turnover. But with so many positions available and not enough tech workers to fill them, companies need to be mindful that they're operating in a competitive market and may need to go the extra mile to keep valuable staff.
An attractive salary package can help – but it's just the starting point. Employees need to feel heard, respected, and valued. That can come in many forms, from taking an active role in their professional development to nurturing an atmosphere of trust, communication, and support.
Effective talent management involves investing in new employees, seeing the training and experience they need to cover any gaps, and delivering it. An employee who is mentored and coached in a supportive environment will be more committed to seeing how they can contribute to its success over the long term.
As part of its push to close the ICT hiring gap, the Quebec government recently announced an $18.8 million investment in the sector to cover various incentives, including internships and work-study programs. These give employees access to training and financial support while reimbursing their employers up to $20,000 per worker.
Giving tech team members the chance to hone their skills while on the job helps them meaningfully contribute to the success of their company – they grow as the organization grows. This kind of buy-in generates long-term loyalty and ensures a ready pool of trained talent when it comes to moving staff to more senior roles.
In 2019, global recruitment firm Indeed surveyed 1,000 tech workers to find out what they want in a job. Top of the list was transparency from leadership, closely followed by giving back to the community and shared values. One of the interesting details to come out of the research was the gap between what older workers want and what their younger colleagues are looking for.
One of the key concerns for younger workers, aged 18 to 24, was flexibility. The older generation may be used to enduring the daily commute to sit at a desk in an office for the 9 to 5, but their next-gen cohorts are looking for a less structured routine. With the pandemic shifting the way we work, the rise of remote working is now sweeping across generational boundaries, especially in tech, where almost any task can be done outside of the traditional office setting.
The workplaces of the future look likely to be remote, or at least to follow a hybrid approach. According to a PwC survey, only one in five Canadian employees want to return to the old office-centric model, and 40% of workers in Quebec say their ideal work environment is fully or partially remote. In the near future, flexibility will transition from being a perk to a necessity, and companies must adapt accordingly or risk losing out on top talent.
Flexibility on the job feeds into another top consideration for employees – health and wellness. In the wake of the pandemic, many readjusted their priorities, taking a closer look at the coveted work/life balance. Wellness initiatives, mental health support, and more flexible working hours are all important components in ensuring your staff is happy, healthy, and productive. And they're even more crucial when working with disconnected and isolated remote teams.
This feeds into another reason new hires may want to switch to your organization: a healthy work culture. Toxic workplaces doubled down on their bad behaviour during the pandemic, and some people are looking to make a switch after the dual stresses of COVID-19 and a bad work environment. However, they will only want to work at your organization if you can prove to them that they aren't going from bad to worse. Employee testimonials, the ability to talk to current employees at your organization, and solid policies around banning workplace bullying will go a long way towards attracting those who were being mistreated elsewhere.
Quebec has the second-biggest concentration of tech jobs in Canada, after Ontario. The province gained over 250,000 tech jobs this year alone, with the most in-demand roles being software engineers and designers, systems analysts, and consultants.
Given the industry's current growth rate, any company looking to hire in this sector has to stand out. With Canada gaining a reputation as the northern Silicon Valley, it's becoming known as a dynamic hub where workers can contribute at the forefront of innovation. As Montreal and Quebec City take their place in the ranks of the new wave of tech cities, they're attracting interest from talented developers and programmers who want to make a difference and live in one of the most beautiful provinces in Canada – or work remotely from wherever they are.
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