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McGill welcomes TechnoVision report

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Published: 2 Feb 1999

Montreal TechnoVision issued a report describing the debilitating effects on the Quebec economy of the lack of trained professionals in key information technology fields.

McGill University senior officials say they welcome the recommendations of the Montreal TechnoVision report issued today. Entitled The Supply of Information Technology Professionals: A Challenge for Quebec’s Economic Future, the report is the result of industry initiatives to try to come to grips with the debilitating effects on the Quebec economy of understaffing and undertraining of professionals in key information technology fields. As the study makes clear, the imbalance between supply and demand of information technology (IT) manpower is especially troublesome. In the past few years the needs of those companies surveyed have been growing at the rate of 20% per year, in contrast to the growth rate of a mere 3% in the supply of Quebec graduates in computer science, computer engineering, and electrical engineering.

According to John Dealy, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, "McGill University has had to reduce the number of students admitted to the B.Eng. Programs in Computer and Electrical Engineering because of the serious shortage of academic staff and laboratory facilities." He states, "The enormous demand for qualified personnel at all levels has made it difficult to recruit and retain academic staff. The result has been a major escalation of the salaries and benefits that must be offered to attract new professors. In addition, the teaching laboratory facilities required are expensive and rapidly become obsolete. Thus, a major new investment will be needed just to maintain enrolment at previous levels."

In supporting the report’s recommendations, McGill Principal Bernard J. Shapiro cautions that the investments in training for these areas must be major and long term if they are to truly make a difference. "We must have commitments for a significant level of funding for a period of at least 10 years in order to have sufficient time to graduate the required student cohorts," he noted. "The programs offered to students by Quebec universities will have to be of the highest quality if we are to be helpful to companies operating in the intensely competitive global economy," he added.

Principal Shapiro says that he applauds Montreal TechnoVision’s leadership, adding that he looks forward to the development of creative partnerships with industry and government in order to respond to the increased demand for highly qualified specialists.

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