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Andrew Eppich is the managing director of Equinix Canada, the world’s digital infrastructure company.

In the past 12 months, the Great Resignation caused havoc across industries, with businesses competing against one another to attract and retain top talent. Coupled with an increasingly hybrid workforce and starkly different career paths for workers than three years ago, organizations have had to rethink hiring strategies.

Equinix’s recent Global Tech Trends Survey showed that Canadian IT decision-makers are struggling to hire skilled employees and consider it a significant barrier to their organization’s success. More than two-thirds (70 per cent) view a shortage of workers with IT skills as a major threat, while more than half (52 per cent) see retaining current talent as a major challenge with cloud computing specialists (41 per cent), those with an artificial intelligence/machine learning aptitude (27 per cent) and security architects (25 per cent) as the most in-demand skilled employees.

The current economic uncertainty, rising costs and inflation are exacerbating the issue. Businesses must cast a wider net when considering hires by investing in programs to bring in candidates from diverse backgrounds. Whether they are former athletes or military veterans looking to transition into the private sector or those looking to start a new life after resettling as refugees, a diverse hiring strategy will create an environment for teams to thrive and do their best work together.

Diversifying talent begins with the right strategy and partners

To find and train the best talent, organizations need to develop new approaches and consider non-traditional talent pipelines to fill current skill gaps. A diverse workforce can bring in new perspectives to make better decisions and achieve better business results.

Modern hiring strategies should be designed to bring employment opportunities to under-represented talent communities, including people with disabilities, women of colour and members of the military and their spouses. Bridging the gap between under-represented communities and equitable job opportunities can help fuel growth and close the talent gap.

Likewise, it’s important to work with likeminded organizations that operate with under-represented communities to empower the next generation of skilled workers by giving back and creating new career pathways for them.

For example, since 2015, Equinix has partnered with World Pulse, a global, online community that connects and amplifies women’s voices, as well as provides digital empowerment training. The partnership can create a new career pathway for women around the world with digital skills and resources and help close the digital divide’s gender disparity in an organic, grassroots way to maximize the impact within these communities.

Consider a career transition and reskilling program

The economic volatility of the past few years has resulted in many skilled workers in Canada and around the world considering a career change. Career transition and reskilling programs can help organizations address skilled talent gaps by hiring and training candidates from adjacent industries with similar skillsets and transferable soft-skills.

For example, as companies embrace the digital-first economy, positions responsible for management of critical digital infrastructure such as data centre technician, becomes highly sought-after, with companies competing fiercely for talent. By looking to adjacent industries where workers require similar skills, such as manufacturing, maritime, oil and gas or telecom, organizations can find amazing people with backgrounds such as mechanical, electrical and civil engineering, construction and networking who are looking to make a pivot in their careers.

Many businesses are working hard to reskill people from other areas as more than half (56 per cent) of Canadian respondents said they reskill workers from similar industries, while 28 per cent are trying to bolster their workforce with recruits from unrelated sectors, according the GTTS report. The most common sources of reskilled Canadian workers are employees returning to work after a period of absence (38 per cent) and those from manufacturing (36 per cent) or administration and business support (35 per cent) roles, followed by finance and insurance (25 per cent). These reskilled workers tend to help businesses bridge the tech skills gaps by working in IT technician (39 per cent), cloud computing (34 per cent) and data analysis roles (25 per cent).

Many of these potential reskilled employees have transferable skills from their previous experiences that could prove helpful as part of a diverse team. Soft skills such as handling pressure, problem-solving, communications and critical thinking are easily transferable and sought-after across industries. Programs can be further specialized to address specific groups.

For example, a program focused on military veterans can help organizations attract highly skilled, passionate, and dedicated people while empowering veterans with skills and opportunities as they transition to post-military careers.

To stay competitive and close the talent gap, organizations need to think outside of the box and modernize their hiring strategies. As the competition for talent is only going to increase, businesses would be well-served to focus less on what skills their candidates don’t have, and more on how to take advantage of the skills they do.

This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about the world of work. Find all Leadership Lab stories at and guidelines for how to contribute to the column here.

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