By Peter Alexander-Taylor The Globe and Mail Staff The Toronto job market is a mess.
It is teetering on the brink of an economic crisis.
And a big part of the problem is a lack of qualified developers.
It turns out that the lack of technical skills in this job market could be the biggest problem facing the province.
Developers don’t usually have much training and most have never worked with the technology industry before, said Paul J. McDonough, a senior vice president with Toronto-based Citi Canada.
That’s partly because Toronto has a shortage of software developers and that can make it hard for anyone to get hired.
And there are fewer developers in the province, said McDonoug.
“That’s a problem.
It’s not something that we can solve by getting more people into the workforce,” he said.
The situation is especially dire in the city’s west end.
“The east end is really struggling,” said McConough, who says there’s only one tech job in the area, and that it’s in a city that has a high rate of joblessness.
“It’s a hard-to-reach, hard-for-people job, and there’s not a lot of training,” he added.
A few years ago, Toronto’s tech industry was worth about $20 billion.
Today, it’s worth less than $2 billion.
Toronto, like many other cities in Canada, has seen a spike in joblessness and is struggling to attract developers.
Toronto’s technology sector has been decimated by the collapse of the oil and gas industry.
But it is still the fastest growing sector in the country.
The city is also struggling to create new jobs in areas like information technology, retail and real estate.
And the lack a strong enough tech sector is the biggest barrier to new tech jobs.
The government created the city-wide tech industry employment program in 2011, which was supposed to boost the number of tech jobs in the City of Toronto.
But the program has been largely ineffective at creating a strong tech sector, which has remained stagnant or even declining, said Jim Bostock, president of the Toronto Business Association.
The Ontario government created a similar program in 2009 to attract technology workers to Toronto, and Bostocks said the program hasn’t helped.
The industry also faces a high unemployment rate.
About two-thirds of people aged 15 to 24 who are in the industry are out of work, according to the Ontario Technology Association.
That means more people are out and about looking for jobs, Bostoksaid.
“People are being discouraged from looking for work.
They’re not finding any jobs,” he told The Globe.
The province’s tech-industry development fund, launched in 2011 and designed to fill the gap, has yet to produce any significant results.
Bostokasaid the province needs to increase the number and size of tech-sector jobs, which he said could include training for skilled tech workers and hiring more people.
But he said that can’t be done overnight.
“You’ve got to get people into those positions,” he noted.
“They’re not going to be in the field overnight.”
What the industry needs is a solution that can attract skilled tech people and hire more people in those jobs, said Peter Schafer, president and CEO of the Ontario Federation of Labour.
“There’s a shortage, and the solution is going to have to be something that’s going to provide the skills and skillsets that these workers need to succeed in the sector,” he explained.
There’s also a lot more training, he added, which is why companies are looking for ways to hire more developers.
“We have an abundance of developers and we’re trying to fill that need.
That isn’t the case in the private sector.
The private sector is not hiring,” he continued.
There are more than 10,000 jobs available in the Toronto tech industry.
It can take about eight months to find one job.
“I think the government has made a huge mistake.
They didn’t look at the industry long enough,” said Bostick.
“What’s happening is we’ve lost the best talent and the best workers, and we’ve seen a lot less innovation.”
The government has invested $400 million to help fill the tech-employment gap, but McDonosough said it hasn’t done enough.
He’s calling on the province to do more.
“When the provincial government comes in with their [funding] package and says, ‘We’re going to get 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 developers and developers of technical and technical related skills,’ and we get nothing,” he stated.
The province should have a plan to hire a sufficient number of developers to fill all the tech jobs, he said, adding that it should have more training for developers.
That would create an economy that would generate jobs and boost wages for everyone in the region, he argued.
“That’s where we’ve got the biggest issues.