Solving tech labour shortage
By Sohail Kamal, West Coast CorrespondentElectronics Engineering
BC tech recruiter VanHack surfs Covid waves
Labour shortages are not a new phenomenon in Canada. But, as the economy recovers and the job market bounces back, the pressure on employers is intensifying. With an aging demographic, coupled with a growing economy and the legacy of the COVID-driven Great Resignation, it is no surprise that local companies are serving up strategies to counter talent shortages.
According to the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), “55% of Canadian entrepreneurs are struggling to hire the workers they need, which leaves them with no choice but to work more hours, as well as delay or refuse orders. In addition, more than a quarter are having a hard time retaining their employees.
This is where Vancouver-based tech recruitment agency VanHack has successfully filled a niche. West Tech Report recently spoke with Ilya Brotzky, CEO of VanHack, about the current job climate, what makes the company unique, and how it has been successful by taking advantage of the extraordinary conditions brought by COVID.
VanHack was established in 2015. The idea for its business model came as a result of four years spent in Brazil. It was in Brazil that Brotzky met a lot of tech professionals who wanted to move to Canada, and as time progressed, he also encountered many companies hunting for talent. So in 2016, VanHack pivoted to focus on satisfying this reciprocating dynamic and as luck will have it, in 2017, a new visa process came about, making it even easier to hire talent from abroad, according to Brotzky.
“The name of the visa is Global Talent Stream which gives individuals a two-year work permit,” he explains. “VanHack prides itself as being ‘simply the fastest way for companies to hire tech talent.’
That’s not a light boast, given the current job climate. These days, almost every company needs to be tech savvy. Companies have learned, perhaps the hard way, that they cannot rely on brick and mortar sales, and traditional marketing methods when lockdowns and restrictions are in place.
“As a result, COVID has accelerated a shortage of tech staff as a result. The pandemic has also made it necessary for staff to work remotely anyways, which has taken away the traditional barriers to hiring someone from abroad,” analyzes Brotzky. “The result? We have gone from 45 to 80 full-time staff in under two years, including a layoff of 15 staff at the start of the pandemic. The layoffs make sense, if you recall, that no one was looking to hire staff in March of 2020.”
Beef up technical departments
This really speaks to Vanhack’s largest challenge since inception. When Covid hit, companies stopped hiring, directly hitting the core of VanHack’s service offering.
“That was very scary. We did our only set of layoffs at that time – relieving a third of our staff,” says Brotzky. “That is a massive amount of layoff and growth in two years. In hindsight, we are glad it all worked out, and it really was a matter of being in the right place at the right time.”
In the past 24-months, demand for talent has bounced back, companies are raising wages, and companies that weren’t tech companies are now forced to beef up their technical departments.
“This is especially true for senior developers, to lead your tech team. There weren’t as many people who learned to code 15 years ago compared to now. Companies are clamoring to hire people who can lead others and mentor others,” explains Brotzky.
For a company whose primary mission is to ‘Create a world where talented tech professionals can migrate to wherever they are needed to help companies innovate and grow,’ VanHack will have a lot to offer for the foreseeable future.
To learn more, go to www.vanhack.com.
Sohail Kamal is EP&T’s West Coast Correspondent.