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HomeWorldMore layoffs for Canadian tech sector, Elevate conference speakers warnAchi News

More layoffs for Canadian tech sector, Elevate conference speakers warnAchi News

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Achi News Updates,

The Elevate Technology conference returned to Toronto this week with a buzz — shutting down several blocks of the Esplanade neighborhood for a block party with performances by artists like rapper Havia Mighty and more than 350 speakers scheduled, including tennis star Venus Williams. Decorate its three spaces before the end of Thursday evening.

But the annual festival, which is making a comeback after a gap of two years, comes at a very short time for the industry. Major startups and tech giants like Netflix, Shopify and Wealthsimple have slashed their workforces as the sector grapples with investor excitement and a potential slowdown.

That means how to navigate economic headwinds — and predictions about how long they will last — have been hot topics at elevated levels.

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“I don’t think we’re even close to the bottom yet,” “Dragon’s Den” star Michael Romano said in Wednesday’s keynote session on “Leading Through Uncertainty.”

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“Technology has hit the first bump in the road, and it’s only going to get worse.”

His e-commerce investment firm Clearco is not immune to the industry’s woes. It laid off 60 employees last month as it shed its international business, a month after cutting 25 percent of its workforce.

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Romano said the company expected international growth that no longer made sense in the current economy and eventually scaled back “experimental” programs, which were “disastrous.”

He outlines the new business plan for the employees and reminds them that he cannot guarantee that it will go exactly according to the plan.

“Being an entrepreneur is a tough job. When the sun shines and when the rain starts to fall, even when you go through cloudy economic conditions, it’s a tough thing,” he said.

Abdullah Snober, executive director of the DMZ Technology Center in Toronto, acknowledged that more cuts are coming from many other companies.

“This is just the beginning,” he said, adding that Elevate launched on Tuesday. “Not to make this into the ultimate scare story, but I think they’re going to see a lot more layoffs.”

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Labor data aggregator Layoffs.fyi counts 630 startups worldwide that have laid off 80,902 employees this year alone. Some 1,193 startups have laid off 176,874 workers since the pandemic began.

Workers who have watched these cuts unfold and been affected by them are now aware of the fact that “the world won’t be the same” when companies hire “ridiculous” numbers of workers in a short amount of time, Snobar said.

But these workers are still needed.

A 2019 report by the Information and Communications Technology Council, a not-for-profit organization that provides labor policy advice, predicts that the demand for digitally skilled talent in Canada will reach 193,000 by 2022 and more than 305,000 by 2023.

Additional accounting for 2020 for Covid-19 suggests that demand will be reduced by nearly 24 percent, and under the new baseline scenario, the digital economy is expected to experience a demand for 147,000 workers by 2022, with total employment reaching nearly two million.

Banks, insurance companies and even retailers are on the hiring spree as they delve deeper into artificial intelligence, apps and other software to improve their operations and overcome labor shortages.

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“I don’t think you’ll ever see a Gotham story where the clouds come in and we have to be very careful and everybody has to hide for a while,” Snowbar said. “We’re going to deal with this thing.”

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Lisa Zarzeczny, chief executive and co-founder of Elevate, agrees. That’s part of why he’s been intentional about booking speakers who are willing to talk about the harsh realities facing technology and share tips on how to move forward.

“We don’t want to hide it,” he said. “We think there’s an opportunity to learn, so at all our stages, we ask some tough questions.”

On top of Romano’s session, Elevate Wealthsimple joined founder Mike Katchen and CEO Anshul Ruparel to explore how to grow a business with upside. “

© 2022 Canadian Press


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