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How to thrive amid a tech talent shortage

Bell experts discussing the ways to tackle tech talent shortage in a room surrounded with screens

Finding, onboarding and keeping the skilled labour your business needs can be challenging. A reduced labour market combined with rising customer demands, fast-evolving cyber threats and ever-changing regulatory requirements makes this task especially difficult. Many Canadian business leaders are in serious need of talent to scale their operations, support digital transformation, and keep their operations safe and compliant. 

To respond, many businesses are retraining existing staff.  This is a common strategy employed at Bell.  We design our internal career growth and education programs to fill high-demand, tech-focused roles in key areas like security, business intelligence, data sciences and cloud computing. However, given that Canada’s digital economy will face demand for 250,000 additional tech jobs by the end of 2025,1 retraining alone is not always enough. 

A shortage of Canadian IT skill

Skill gaps affect businesses of every size and in every sector. The majority of Canadian organizations say they need workers with digital skills, while at least 55% of Canadian tech entrepreneurs can’t find the talent they need to grow.Widening the talent pool is a must. 

A lot has been done on that front, such as the partnership that produced the Bell-Western 5G Research Centre, a place for technological innovation and a training ground for much-needed talent.But there are other ways businesses can address the gaps in skills they require. Here are some options:  

Automation is your friend

Automation can help simplify tasks or even eliminate manual processes. Security, operational efficiency and your network are a few key areas where automation can really make a difference. 

As covered in Bell’s protection and compliance blog, maintaining a secure and compliant IT environment is a resource-intensive task requiring constant vigilance and swift response. Advanced security solutions can identify attacks before they happen, streamlining responses by delivering essential information to security analysts. Some platforms – like Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM) – automatically handle routine matters so staff can focus on more urgent or high-priority security issues while keeping the same level of protection. 

Operational automation can be as simple as an IoT sensor that initiates actions or processes based on established thresholds and milestones. Alerts can be set to go to whomever needs to see them, sorted and ranked by urgency, taking the burden of monitoring off your staff’s shoulders. Other solutions can automatically process and analyze collected data, delivering insights that can support resource planning and operational optimization. Some IoT platforms are delivered as a service, leaving you with more capital by shifting initial expenditures to ongoing operating expenses. 

At the network level, there are solutions you can use to automate and simplify management. A software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solution, for example, can intelligently route mission-critical traffic to the most appropriate connectivity type for optimal performance and bandwidth usage. 

Level-up your business with the right partner

Specialized partners can help overcome skill gaps (especially temporary ones). In addition to offering timely advice, this option can also be less expensive than hiring new staff or moving and training people from another part of your business. But how do you figure out which tasks and processes to contract out and which to maintain in-house? 

One approach is to tighten the focus on your core business, which can highlight opportunities to bring in partners for non-core activities. For example, a retailer or mining company is not going to prioritize setting up video security monitoring systems or maintaining IoT devices. That’s not their main focus. Such tasks are prime candidates for outsourcing, while all the skills the core business requires are best sourced in-house when possible. 

Then there are the tasks you could theoretically do yourself, but would require significant time and money. Imagine planning to equip every truck in your fleet with IoT sensors to monitor temperature-sensitive shipments. You would most likely install those sensors in phases, coinciding with routine maintenance checks or other regular vehicle downtime. Depending on the size of your fleet, however, this could require significant planning and take resources away from other functions. Plus, it could be a long time before the rollout is complete. Alternatively, a partner with the right expertise and scale could handle the upgrade quickly and during off hours without affecting your operations, minimizing the impacts to your business. 

If you don’t want to contract out entire tasks or processes, you could always augment your in-house team with external help. For example, you might seek a partner who can come in and assess your IT environment, identify opportunities for automation, and help your team turn data and analytics into actionable outcomes and trends. For protection and compliance, a strong security partner could help you mount a stronger security posture without overtaxing your in-house resources. 

Your path to overcoming the skills gap

While the skills gap continues to challenge many companies, there are options available to ensure that your business is set up for success.  Automating tasks and partnering can certainly help.   

With Bell, you can take advantage of our certified experts to help your in-house IT teams oversee your network, IoT, cloud, security and collaboration needs. Our professional and managed services teams have worked with Canada’s largest businesses to assess, design, deploy and support the solutions required to realize their customer experience ambitions.  Let us help you today! 

1. Ivus, M; Kotak, A. Onwards and Upwards –– Digital Talent Outlook 2025Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC). August 2021. Ottawa, Canada.
2. Business Development Bank of Canada. Tech Industry Outlook What’s Next for the Technology Sector in Canada: BDC Study. January 2022.
3. BCE. Western partners with Bell on 5G research initiative. June 2020.