Dear Employment Specialist,
I am a computer programmer with a company that designs transportation solutions for the trucking industry. I know I am lucky to have my job, but I worry about keeping up my skills, with new advancements coming up all the time in my field. I worry that it eventually will be necessary for my company to replace me with someone else who has the new skills and knowledge, because I have not been keeping updated.
My employer doesn’t do much to help me with updating my skills and I don’t really have the money or time to take off to go take a course. Any suggestions on where or how I could improve my skills?
Signed: Struggling to Keep Up (STKU)
Some people might be surprised to hear that employers in the ICT (Information and Communications Technologies) sector struggle to find employees with the skills they need. In fact research that examined ICT trends for the next few years, showed that by 2019 there are expected to be 182,000 jobs in that won’t be filled in Canada because of a lack of skills. A Globe and Mail article recently pointed out that these include careers such as “computer programmers, software engineers, data administrators, information systems analysts and network operators – good paying, interesting jobs in a variety of fields, including healthcare, entertainment, financial services, marketing, and just about any other industry you can think of.”
You are not the only one we have heard from in your field who complains that while employers ask in interviews about candidate’s commitment to life long learning, they don’t always make it easy for ICT professionals to get the training they need. So, it’s up to you to take the initiative and seek out courses. The good news is that there are many online options available.
Many of the high demand skills in your sector can be learnt online, often using high quality, low cost or free sites. The Globe and Mail article identifies some good suggestions for accessible online courses, including Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which are free online courses, often from highly respected universities and colleges. Look for courses on sites such as Coursera, EDx, Udacity, and Code School which are especially renowned for information technology and computer sciences.
I commend you for making an effort to keep your skills up to date. Try to stay ahead of the curve, by tracking which skills are in high demand. You can do this by reviewing job postings in your field, and identifying what employers ask for. Set up online job alerts, and keep track of jobs as they are posted.
One final tip — if your employer is open to paying for training, the government of Ontario might be able to help. Working with the Government of Canada, they offer The Canada-Ontario Job Grant to provide financial support to employers who wish to purchase short-term training to existing and new employees. JVS Toronto is an approved service provider of the Grant through our five Employment Services locations in the City of Toronto and York Region. Contact us for more information.
Good luck with your career.