We are currently witnessing a new era of global trade, industrialization, and socio-economic shifts that are profoundly shaping our world. The heightened urbanization of the world population, the rise of the gig economy, changing environmental trends, the uptake in cryptocurrencies, the increased demand for peer-to-peer consumerism, and the upsurge in intelligent and autonomous systems are all signs of this rapidly evolving digital landscape.
The dynamics of such an economy, along with the societal trends that emerge from it, are expected to give way to frequent shifts in business models and employment prospects. The projected adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI), 5G mobile, Blockchain, Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR & AR), and 3D Printing will herald a new era of heightened demand for skilled talent, while also generating a contraction in low-skilled jobs. Free-lance jobs and fractional employment are all but manifestations of the changing nature of work that is upon us. Enabling transitional talent strategies to high growth sectors of the Canadian economy, while simultaneously creating opportunities for all Canadians to participate in this thriving digital economy will be a key focus for ICTC going forward.
In 2017, ICTC continued to guide a forward-looking digital agenda for Canada by delivering pioneering research, evidence-based policy advice, and creative capacity building programs. We participated in a variety of wide-ranging forums and speaking engagements at over 20 leading national and international events and trade missions that spanned Europe, Mexico, China, and India. We also delivered and launched key talent programs that included: the Small Business Digitization Initiative, offering an innovative approach to job-matching by providing unemployed and underemployed young graduates with advanced digital skills to assist Ontario small businesses on their pathway to digital adoption; the GO Talent and IWES programs, both connecting international ICT talent with Canadian businesses; the Women in Technology Initiative; the CyberTitan skills program, targeting middle and secondary school students; as well as the Student Work-Integrated Learning Program (WIL Digital), a critical program providing 1000 post-secondary education (PSE) students across Canada with classroom learning and hands-on industry experiences in high growth sectors of the Canadian economy.
On the policy and research front, we significantly expanded our reach by tackling important themes relevant to the growing digital economy, including identifying in-demand occupations, understanding the principles of innovation, and other top issues such as small business scale-up and FDI attraction. Among the key publications are: Presenting Canada to the World, underlining the case for international investment and small business scale up; the first of four consultative papers to develop a relevant Canadian Digital Innovation Measure, aimed at better gauging the drivers for innovation and growth in Canada; and the digital employment outlook for 2021 “The New Talent Wave – Navigating The Digital Shift”. In addition to this, we have released a multitude of informative research on transformative technologies, economic trends, and labour market shifts at both federal and provincial levels. Lastly, we also led, in collaboration with four other key founding members, the first Blockchain Innovation Supercluster initiative, with the aim of heightening Canada’s digital advantage in this space. We also significantly heightened the data mining, analytical, and visualization tools to provide enhanced economic and labour market projections.
Going forward, we will be expanding the range of informative research and policy analysis, while focusing on heightening the national discourse on key matters for the digital economy in Canada. 2017 was also a significant year for us. From the development of key research and policy solutions, to innovative talent programs, to strengthening our internal capacity and acquiring top talent, these developments are ones that are destined to take ICTC’s potential to new heights in the coming years.
I would like to conclude by extending a special thank you to all of our partners and stakeholders for their valuable support and trust in our mandate, to the Board members for their guidance, and to our very talented staff for their remarkable creativity and efforts in advancing important goals for Canada.
I wish you all a very happy and prosperous 2018, and look forward to an exciting year ahead.
ICTC President & CEO, Namir Anani