Québec companies need skilled talent; co-op programs at every university would be a good start
By Pierre-Philippe Lortie, CCI’s Director of Government Affairs in Quebec
Like many provinces, Québec is facing a skilled labour shortage in the technology and innovation sector, and it’s slowing economic development and the wealth creation in the province.
According to TECHNOCompétences, nearly 13,000 positions will be added in Quebec by the end of 2021 in the technology and innovation sector. More and more Québec companies are struggling in hiring and retaining the right talent to allow them to implement their digital transformation or to continue their growth by developing new digital products.
CCI Québec is proposing that the Québec government adopt a talent strategy to address these skill shortages, and one important element of our proposal is dramatically increasing the co-op opportunities in technology programs in higher education institutions.
In fact, we are calling for Québec to adopt a policy that would make it mandatory for every student graduating from engineering and information technology programs to go through some sort of co-op placement for real-world job experience.
A successful co-op program in all higher education institutions would serve as the foundation of a comprehensive strategy for attracting, training, reskilling and retaining talent in Québec. By creating stronger linkages between educational institutions, businesses and other stakeholders, these organizations will be positioned to work together to address the talent gap and ensure that graduating students find successful employment.
Québec businesses are already taking steps to do this work on their own, without government assistance. Montreal-based FX Innovation partnered with the University of Ottawa to build the CloudCampus program, which aims to bridge the gap between current skills of cloud specialists and future skills required (ready-to-work) to fill a broader range of roles in the cloud computing sector.
FX Innovation took this step on their own, because skilled talent in cloud computing is vital to their business’s future, but many companies will not be as proactive addressing the need for skilled talent.
By creating co-op programs that connect companies to higher education institutions, the government can build a talent pipeline for all Québec businesses similar to how FX Innovation has built a pipeline for their own talent. Currently in Québec, four institutions offer co-op programs related to the technology sector — Université de Sherbrooke, École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), Concordia and UQAM.
The idea to create mandatory co-op programs for all education for training related to engineering and technology is just one of 13 recommendations that, taken together, can form the foundation of a comprehensive talent strategy for Québec. If you want to read more about CCI’s 13 recommendations, here’s a link to our talent strategy (in French).