The Tech Bootcamps: Why Canada needs tech-skilled immigrant talent.

The Tech Bootcamps are an innovative opportunity for newcomers to adapt and upgrade their soft skills to succeed in the Canadian tech sector. Findings from the Bootcamps will be used to push for change amongst tech employers and deconstruct barriers stopping newcomers from finding meaningful employment.

Why do we need immigrant talent in Canada’s tech sector?

Tech is one of Canada’s fastest-growing sectors and needs immigrant talent to thrive. Employment in the sector grew 233% from 2006 to 2020 – that’s over 880,000 jobs in less than two decades. At the same time, Canada’s domestic labour force only grew by 605,000 people – not nearly enough to meet the tech sector’s needs, let alone the needs of the entire economy.

Despite the clear and urgent need for newcomer talent, immigrants suffer from higher levels of unemployment, lower wages, and higher levels of economic precarity resulting from spending more on essentials such as housing.

Tech-skilled immigrants are especially vulnerable to these trends due to the fierce competition for jobs and the concentration of available roles in expensive urban centres, mainly Toronto and Vancouver. Recent layoffs by major firms have also influenced hiring processes to become more cautious. As a result, tech firms may exclude immigrant talent due to a perception that their onboarding and retention requires more resources than for domestic talent.

The soft skills challenge.

From working closely with our tech employer partners, we have found firsthand evidence of how crucial soft skills are to securing meaningful work in this thriving sector: 85% of job successes come from soft skills, while only 15% come from hard skills. Despite newcomers having years of experience in their field, there is a perception that they need to gain the soft skills required to succeed in the Canadian market. Within the tech sector, the ability to articulate solutions effectively, carry out scrums, and interpret customer requests is key.

According to a recent survey by Knowledge City, 89% of recruiters say a lack of soft skills is why a hire doesn’t work out. Tech Bootcamps registrants have also highlighted this challenge: Canadian experience and soft skills-related challenges, such as networking and interviews, are the most commonly perceived barriers.

How do the Tech Bootcamps help?

The Tech Bootcamps are informed by and co-designed with employers. Together, IEC-BC, the Vancouver Economic Commission, and our employer partners have identified some of the main soft skills that are needed in the tech industry.

Figure 1: Top six soft skills identified by Tech Bootcamps employer partners

While designing the Tech Bootcamps, we have been keenly aware of the need to move away from simply talking about soft skills to applying them in practice. That is why we worked with our employer partners to identify the main learning objectives, assessment criteria, and the tools and experiences that will help newcomers succeed.

Figure 2: Key newcomer tools and goals identified by Tech Bootcamps employers

How can you get involved?

We are actively looking for volunteers to facilitate activities at the Tech Bootcamps. This is a unique opportunity for tech professionals to grow their networks, refine their coaching skills, and help deconstruct harmful biases and barriers to effectively integrating newcomer talent.

Register here to become a volunteer facilitator and learn more about the facilitator opportunities here.

For any questions about the Tech Bootcamps, please contact Ryan Carter, Project Lead, at