Quebec government to spend $19M on recruiting, training IT professionals

·2 min read

The Quebec government is investing $19 million into educating, recruiting and training workers for the information technology sector — a sector that has been stretched even thinner by the pandemic.

With an unprecedented number of people working from home, IT specialists have been in higher demand than ever before. The sector was already suffering from a workforce shortage before COVID-19 made landfall, with 6,500 positions left unfilled.

The government's most recent investment aims to fill roughly 4,500 of those posts, ensuring some 900 companies are able to staff crucial IT roles.

Labour Minister Jean Boulet said the funding will also help retrain those who've lost their jobs since March.

"During the pandemic, many young people, women, immigrants lost their jobs," he said.

"They've become extremely affected by the pandemic, and we have to help them get re-qualified or upscale their capacity."

The recruitment campaign began in December under the motto "On cherche du mode," or in English, "We are looking for people."

Of the investment, $15 million will go toward offering financial support to businesses in the IT sector, assisting with recruitment outside of Quebec, according to a government announcement.

Sylvain Roy Roussel/CBC
Sylvain Roy Roussel/CBC

Another $4 million will help unemployed people get into short-term training programs at the college or university level. That investment is expected to give 500 people a career boost.

The initiative is in addition to other actions aimed at attracting workers into fields such as visual effects, computer animation and video games, the province said.

'Upsurge in career changes'

This funding comes at a time when an increasing number of people, many well into their career, are changing fields, according to Pier-Samuel Goulet-Côté, admissions counsellor at Collège O'Sullivan de Québec.

"What we have noticed since the start of the pandemic is really an upsurge in career changes," he said.

His school has hybrid classrooms set up that allow students to come in person or attend classes from home.

"I would say that we are riding the wave since we offer a lot of online training," Goulet-Côté told Radio-Canada.

He said a large proportion of students who enrol in IT programs are mid-career workers who want to upgrade or simply change jobs.

For a 45-year-old who has a career, a house, a car, and children, it's not easy to dedicate so much time to schooling, Goulet-Côté said, but this government program could help.

If companies want to recruit and retain IT professionals in the current job market, he said, they will have to do their part by offering training and skill development.