by Heidi Riley
The Employment Journey website now has a series of articles and videos about careers in Digital Computing. The world of computing has been growing at a fast pace. Since the pandemic started, the demand is even greater and will continue long into the future.
We hope these articles and videos will help answer the following questions:
- Why should you consider a career in the digital economy?
- What kind of computing jobs are out there?
- What kind of education pathways will guide you to the IT career you desire?
There are many choices and roads to follow in this field, and virtually every job in every industry has a need for some level of computing skillset. Onwards and Upwards – Digital Talent Outlook 2025 is a report by the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC). It provides updated employment forecasts for the Canadian digital economy to 2025.
The report cites statistics showing that from January 2020 to May 2021, the number of people employed in the digital economy in Canada grew by 11.8 percent, the highest of any other sector in Canada (p. 17)
“By 2025, ICTC forecasts employment in the Canadian digital economy to reach 2.26 million—triggering a demand for an additional 250,000 jobs.
“Key tech workers are increasingly found outside of the tech sector. For instance, software developers and data scientists are now often found in sectors like finance, natural resources, healthcare, and retail.
ICTC lists the following sectors that are part of the digital economy:
- Digital Industries
- Health & Biotechnology
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Clean Resources
- Clean Technology
- Agri Technology
- Interactive Digital Media
The report (p. 48) lists the most in-demand occupations in the digital economy and their critical competencies and skills:
- Software Engineer
- Web Developer
- Data Engineer
- Data Analyst
- Manager, Software Engineering
- DevOps Engineer
- System Administrator
- Engineering Manager
- Data Scientist
- Security Analyst
- Project Managers
- Business Development Managers
- Business Analyst
Here is a summary of what local employers and representatives from educational institutions on PEI have to say about the vast array of opportunities:
Combat Computers in Charlottetown specializes in computer sales, service, maintenance and security, and there are 17 staff members.
“When hiring, our biggest challenge is finding Network Administrators who repair servers and can troubleshoot,” says owner Steve vanDuinkerken. “We also look to hire Remote Managers who can use tools to remotely manage servers and other infrastructure.”
When hiring, they look for certifications in A+, Security+, Network+, and the mechanical skills needed for troubleshooting.
Those skills can be obtained through programs at Holland College, Academy of Learning College, UPEI, and online.
Staff also need good communication skills to be able to interact with clients.
“There are so many opportunities in IT,” says Steve. “IT is in everything, no matter what job you do. The need for IT specialists is exploding, and more people are needed all the time.”
ProServe IT is a growing IT company located in downtown Charlottetown. “The pandemic has caused our role to provide managed services to balloon and grow rapidly,” says Tom Shkrabuik, Manager. “Our PEI Managed Services Department team has grown from three to 16 people.
“We look for people with a wide variety of IT skills and backgrounds, including skills in Microsoft Azure and cloud-based support, and we are willing to train to help people get those skills. It is also important that our staff can converse with clients on the phone and be able to drill down and solve the problem.
“Even if you do not have all the skills listed in a job posting, apply and state clearly what job you are applying for and what you hope to grow into. Reach out even if you are not fully qualified. You can build your skillset while you are working in the role. The ability to grow and learn on the fly is the big thing.”
Kabam creates interactive video games. The Charlottetown office has been in operation for three years and has 13 employees. “The company as a whole has over 30 roles available, and most of these jobs can be done remotely,” says Nathan Henry, Associate Producer. “You can work from anywhere.”
Nathan says there is not always one straight path to a job with a gaming company. “For example, you don’t necessarily need a four-year Computer Science degree to become a Software Engineer in games. You can learn the skills by attending coding bootcamps, online courses, or a mixture of all three.
Nathan advises those who want to work in gaming to earn relevant experience in the role that they want, download the software gaming companies use and make a demo to develop a portfolio. Aim for a junior position, and then you can learn more on the job and work your way into the position you want.
- Network Administrator
- Helpdesk Analyst
- Software and Web Developer
- Computer Service Technician
“The AOL learning management system allows students to study at the college or remotely,” says Katherine McQuaid, Director of Training. “Instructors are available for in-class learning.
“As part of their programs, students prepare for and write the exams for the certifications in demand for their particular career choice. Exams are written in Halifax or Moncton. Graduates are ready to enter the job market in entry-level positions.
“IT pervades all of our workplaces, and there is a need for a skilled IT workforce to maintain the technology.”
- Computer Networking Technology (hardware)
- Computer Information Systems (programming)
- Data Analytics post-graduate certificate
“Cyber security is probably the biggest IT industry specialty in demand right now,” says Donnie McKinnon, Learning Manager. “Everything is online now, and the safety of our data is a huge concern. There is also a high demand for Data Analysts, Developers, Hardware Technicians, and Network Administrators.
“To start off in the field, after graduating, earn some basic certifications on your own in the area you are interested in. Each language has its own certifications.
“IT companies are telling us they are expanding and looking for people because they are looking to ramp up as much as possible. IT will always offer good job opportunities on PEI and elsewhere.”
The School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences (SMCS) at UPEI is relatively new, but it is built on a strong foundation of core mathematics and computer science programs that have existed at UPEI for many years.
UPEI offers computer science degree options including honours, major, minor, specialization in video game programming, and co-operative education, as well as specialized and professional programs in actuarial science, financial mathematics, business analytics, data analytics, and statistics.
“Mathematical and computational sciences are experiencing a boom,” says Dr. Shannon Fitzpatrick, Interim Associate Dean. “Everyone is collecting data, and they need people with the skills to manage, analyze, and extract useful information from the data. This is what mathematicians, statisticians, and computer scientists are trained to do.”
For a look at all the videos, click here.