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Calgary’s tech talent skills were given the spotlight at job fair, expo

Calgarians flooded the Platform Calgary Innovation Centre Friday as job seekers sought more information on a potential tech career in the city.

The DiscoverTechYYC event, a partnership between Platform and the Tech West Collective brought together more than 30 tech companies, along with post-secondary schools to highlight available jobs and reskilling opportunities.

Businesses participating in Calgary’s tech job fair and expo said tech talent exists in Calgary. But it doesn’t mean there isn’t more room for improvement.

According to data released by  LinkedIn, Calgary’s tech talent has grown 2.20 per cent in the past year, making it North America’s fastest-growing tech talent city.

“The amazing opportunities that exist within Calgary, and the way the future of work is working, we can attract talent from all over,” said Jody Sekias, with Getty Images.

“I think we have amazing opportunities in the tech companies that we have in Calgary for anyone to consider.”

According to Sekias, raising awareness about existing opportunities, allowing people to find them and seeking the skills needed to make them successful could be improved.

“The ability to come up with strategic ideas, have transferable skills, be collaborative, be able to communicate and come up with creative solutions, I think are very transferable skills that any employer would be looking for,” Sekias said.

Other areas for improvement

Husam Al-Rameeni founder and CEO of Hayah University, a start-up tech company focusing on reinventing the way people learn, said people seek different opportunities in life.

One of the problems is that many things are built only to support things that have a significant financial benefit.

Al-Rameeni’s concern is of businesses wanting applicants with higher levels of experience without the education aspect.

“We forgot about the educational part. There are tech ambitions, and there’s a lot of money behind it, but nobody wants to teach,” said Al-Rameeni.

According to Al-Rameeni, simplifying processes could continue to build tech talent in Calgary. Al-Rameeni said that even simplifying the immigration process would help.

“It took me 11 years to immigrate here because I’m self-employed. We should be like Estonia, it’s a digital country. They have the remote program, it brings people who have the talent within a week,” said Al-Rameeni.

Shifting economy

According to Levvel’s vice president of business development, Cam Smith, there’s a fundamental shift from the oil and gas dependence.

Levvel is an IT staffing company that helps individuals find work in the tech marketplace. Levvel was chosen as one of the fastest-growing tech companies in 2020 by Canada’s business magazines.

Smith said the improvement in technology has also allowed for a new way of thinking for businesses-seeking applicants.

“I think through the lens of the employer, things have very much dramatically changed over the last two years, and there’s more of an open-mindedness to consider a variety of talent,” he said.

A shift into the tech sector may require retraining or retooling – or degree education to enter.

Inception U is a group that help Calgarians and companies become “future fit”. They were at the DiscoverTechYYC event on Friday.

“We’re developing a mindset and skills that will help one keep on learning because we know that’s the way of the future,” said Michelle Schurman, Inception U’s marketing and communication lead.

Schurman said Calgary has the tech talent skills. It just requires a little bit more work from an educational side.

“We know innovation is key. Companies are popping up all over Calgary, it’s a super exciting time to be in tech,” she said.

“We’ve got a lot of smart people in Calgary, and they just need an adjustment at tweaking their skills and inception. We really help them do that and ultimately find employment.”