Enrolment down despite huge tech job market
Marc Bence/for metro edmonton
Edmonton companies could soon be scrambling to fill vacant positions in IT departments because there’s a growing shortage of recent graduates, warns an instructor at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.
Steve Chattargoon, associate chair of the school’s IT program, says classes have been cut significantly over the past seven years because of a huge drop in the number of applicants.
"If you would talk to any industry partner, you would hear there’s not enough grads from all of the IT schools across Canada to support the many positions that are available," said Chattargoon.
More than 160 students from the school’s IT program graduated in 2007, including 70 from NAIT’s international program with China. But those numbers are a huge drop from the number of grads that flooded the market back in 2000.
Chattargoon suspects that the recent collapse of the dot-com companies, Y2K and the field’s geeky perception has made many still fearful of looking into a computer systems career.
"For whatever reason, they’re not coming into IT, yet right now we have grads going into the workforce where they are making $50,000 or more a year," he said.
Myron Borys of the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation says local tech companies aren’t currently struggling with labour shortages, but it’s on the horizon.
"This industry just hasn’t made the radar screen yet in Alberta because of the acute shortages in nurses and trades," he said. "We could soon very well see an acute IT shortage."
Nationally, the IT sector needs to fill 58,000 more jobs in 2008, according to a recent report by the Conference Board of Canada.