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‘Hands on’ skills key to Canada embracing digital economy

Research suggests 83% of Canadian firms could lack digital expertise needed for new age of business


Canadian businesses need to make nurturing and empowering digital talent a top priority as they prepare to do battle in the digital economy and compete more aggressively on the world stage, according to a recent IDC InfoDoc created in partnership with SAP Canada Inc.

The advice comes after research found only 17% of Canadian organizations have made digital transformation integral to their strategy, even with 86% of executives having discussed the implications of a digital economy and 60% expecting it to have a major impact on their business within five years. IDC attributes this to a scarcity of experienced employees with ‘hands on’ involvement in digital initiatives.

Tony Olvet, Group Vice President, IDC Canada says: “The research suggests there is a lack of understanding around what is needed for a business to truly become a part of the digital economy. This has led to caution in terms of committing to meaningful action to address it. For digital transformation to happen there needs to be a common understanding of the concept within a business and a shared goal to initiate change. Getting there is a matter of developing and unleashing enough digital talent to carry the business into the new economy.”

Despite 83% of Canadian organizations not having a full digital strategy in place, only 26% of executives surveyed cited a lack of relevant workforce skill sets as one of the top three immediate concerns for their business.

“The increasing complexity of technology and business processes, alongside the need for better analysis of data, is rapidly changing the skills a workforce needs to succeed,” says John Graham, president of SAP Canada Inc. “It’s time for an assessment of what expertise an organization needs to enter the digital economy and thrive in it – whether that talent is being nurtured in-house or brought in more effectively from outside.”

SAP Canada partners with educational institutions such as BCIT and the Vancouver School Board’s Templeton Secondary STEM program to create and deliver programs that prepare more young people for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“The Vancouver School District is pleased to be working in partnership with SAP to nurture our students for diverse careers in technology,” says Scott Robinson, Superintendent of the Vancouver School Board. “There appears to be a talent gap in Canada in technology and we’re all working to fill it by encouraging students to get more involved in STEM courses such as those offered at Templeton Secondary and introducing mentoring programs with professionals in technology. We are pleased to support the goal of boosting youth employment and helping Canadian organizations on their journey to digital transformation.”