Loss of wages is projected to hit $1.4B, and corporate partnerships aim to close the gap.
Toronto, ON (07/21, 2022) – More than 33,000 Black, locally-born tech workers could be missing from Canada by 2024, and it’s not because of supply. A new report released by Black Professionals in Tech Network (BPTN) on “The State of Black Canadians in STEM” projects the large-scale underutilization of qualified Black STEM professionals. These projected outcomes hurt more than workers; it also creates a projected $1.4 Billion in lost economic wages for Canada over the same period.
“Our intention is not only to make people aware of the gap in employment of qualified workers but to move them to participate and take steps to solve what is an industry and market problem,” says Lekan Olawoye, founder and CEO, BPTN. “Not fully utilizing our STEM qualified Black workers in such a tight job market impacts our competitiveness and is a risk to Canada’s economy.”
Currently, there are over 10,000 qualified local-born STEM workers who are trained and ready for hire. However, the report show that while there are enough Black STEM qualified workers entering the Canadian labor force each year, the vast majority of them (80%) are immigrants.
“Canada is over-dependent on immigration to meet its talent needs,” Olawoye reiterates. “This approach is risky. An over-reliance on immigration as a source of Black STEM talent leaves tech companies vulnerable if immigration is halted (e.g. Covid) or if immigrants choose other destinations in the global job reshuffling.”
Furthermore, the report points out that our education sector is not producing STEM-qualified Black graduates at representative levels. The pipeline for developing future STEM talent shows that of all post-secondary credentials achieved by Black students, only 16% were in STEM (compared to the 23% average for all minorities). The report details several challenges contributing to this growing problem, including the over-dependence on immigration for talent, excessive streaming in grades K-12, and the need for more education-sector development for future local-born Black tech workers.
Despite the challenges, there have been some impressive and encouraging results as BPTN ends the first of its three-year groundbreaking partnership with Royal Bank of Canada’s Future Launch. When the initiative was announced at the beginning of 2021, it inspired lead sponsors RBC and League to help recruit other companies to form BPTN’s “Champions Table.” The Champions Table consists of senior executives from top companies, including Bell, Rogers, Deloitte, CIBC, Hootsuite, Sun Life, Facebook, Shopify, Canada Life, Rakuten Kobo, Top Hat and Softchoice, who have committed to building more inclusive work environments and focusing efforts to close the representation gap in tech. They have also taken action to diversify their workforces through clear hiring commitments and mentorship. As a result, the Champions Table has collectively exceeded its one-year target to hire 324 workers and hired 1,002 Black tech professionals.
Based on the results, BPTN is making recommendations and working on government and education sector partnerships to close the gaps in STEM education for Black youth before it is too late. BPTN’s recommendations include:
- Governments must do their part to maintain the supply of STEM-qualified Black immigrants in Canada.
- The education sector must actively work to close the gap in Black STEM graduation rates and be intentional in its efforts to cultivate a strong and diverse talent pipeline.
- Increase hiring rates for qualified Black STEM graduates and develop and/or expand mentorship and sponsorship programs.
Read the full statement.
About Black Professionals in Tech Network (BPTN)
Black Professionals in Tech Network (BPTN) is the largest Black community of tech professionals in North America. Founded in 2018, BPTN bridges the network gap in the tech industry by providing Black technical and business professionals with access to senior executive sponsorship, skills building, and a strong peer network to level up their careers. BPTN partners with companies to attract, hire and retail Black talent. With more than 50 thousand members and 66 customers, BPTN launched obsidi.com, a multi-sided networking platform of choice for professionals looking to learn, grow and level up their careers. Learn more here.
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