SaskTech: Advocating for the Saskatchewan Tech Sector
SaskTech, a member-driven advocacy group, represents Saskatchewan’s thriving tech sector. The organization’s membership is made up of 53 technology companies across the province, representing close to 2,000 jobs.
Saskatchewan’s tech sector is experiencing major expansion in both companies and jobs, and SaskTech and its members are at the forefront of this growth. SaskTech announced this week that more than 220 jobs were created in tech in the first nine months of 2018. SaskTech members’ had 200 unfilled technology positions in fall 2017, and conducted a survey in 2018 to check on recruitment for these positions. The survey of just 17 member companies found that more than 220 jobs were filled in a nine-month period, and 75 more positions remained open. By the end of 2019, SaskTech sees another 400 positions being actively recruited.
“Our first rather informal survey of a subset of the SaskTech membership showed that we’re filling more jobs than we thought, and that more jobs remain to be filled,” says Aaron Genest, President, SaskTech. “These 200 jobs represent the same amount of jobs that would be created by a new manufacturing plant, for example.” This positive job creation news comes on the heels of other good news in the sector. Saskatoon’s 7Shifts recently received a $13.4 million Series A investment; Solido Design Automation was acquired by Siemens and is now Mentor Graphics; Saskatoon-based Coconut Software saw a $4.2 million investment; and Regina-based AgTech firm IntraGrain was acquired in November 2018.
While the news is good for the tech sector and the province, there are still challenges to be addressed. “The tech industry in Saskatchewan is constantly looking to hire for quality, well-paying jobs,” says Genest. “We’re working with both government and post-secondary institutions to develop the skilled labour we need.”
Since its formation, SaskTech has taken on many projects to grow the sector in Saskatchewan. In June 2018, SaskTech assisted with a recruitment mission to Sao Paulo, Brazil. The successful mission brought 16 new employees to Skip the Dishes and five to 7Shifts, with six more recruits expected to join 7Shifts soon. SaskTech also organized its first-ever Teacher Tech Days for teachers interested in STEM, and promoting STEM and the sector to students. In September, SaskTech had a hand in working with ComIT – a non-profit educational organization – to launch a coding training program in Saskatoon. The pilot project has led to 19 people working in new jobs after the end of the course. 2019 promises to be another busy year for SaskTech, with plans for another Teacher Tech Days this summer, three more sessions of ComIT coding training, and perhaps most importantly, a formal study about jobs, needed skills and recruitment in the province’s tech sector.
President: Aaron Genest