Support from all levels of government for music education and scenes can help foster a talented tech workforce, a recent report from the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) shows. Music education, the report finds, helps bridge gaps between technical know-how and critical soft skills, while the presence of music scenes in cities can help attract and retain skilled workers.
“Our findings suggest that music is more important in developing and attracting a skilled ICT workforce than we previously thought,” says ICTC’s Jeff Leiper, VP of Strategic Communications, Research and Policy.
“The value of music to society is multilayered. We already knew music was a rewarding career, means of cultural expression, healing and entertainment but now we have also confirmed that music can be leveraged to build more successful cities and to develop more innovative, successful workers in important fields like science and technology,” says Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. “Now there should be no doubt that we must prioritize music education programs and policies that foster growth in this important economic sector.”
ICTC research demonstrates that Canadian companies face an increasing demand for workers with the right blend of skills, and that emerging sectors such as apps development and cloud computing will heighten that demand.
ICTC’s research, supported by Music Canada, combines a review of existing literature and interviews with ICT firms to demonstrate that, among other findings:
- music education fosters not just logical and computational skills, but such soft skills as leadership, initiative and teamwork. These will be critical in a knowledge economy as Canada seeks to compete in a global marketplace;
- the presence in cities of strong music scenes is generally indicative of a creative technical workforce, and that these scenes can be fostered in inexpensive ways. Cities such as Austin TX and Kitchener ON are currently capitalizing on the presence of music scenes to establish a competitive edge vis-à-vis other municipalities in attracting companies and talent.
Based on its findings, ICTC makes five recommendations to policy-makers and others in order to capitalize on the potential for music to catalyze economic development in the ICT sector:
- Provincial governments need to make a conscious and significant investment in music education that supports 21st century curriculum, provides properly trained teachers, and incorporates general teachers would be beneficial.
- Curriculum should identify the connections between music education and technology careers to encourage a diversity of career choices for those studying music and to encourage technology students to pursue their music education.
- Parents should be provided with resources on the benefits of music education and supported in advocacy efforts with levels of government and school administration.
- Given the impact that cultural scenes have on the attraction and retention of top-notch talent and quality ICT employers, governments are well advised to focus on the quality and diversity of their cultural industries as a tool for economic development. This requires support at all levels of government.
- Collect and centralize information on the benefits of music education and participation to the careers of technology professionals, to assist them in ongoing professional development. Present information at workshops and conferences directed at technology professionals or crossover conferences such as NXNE Interactive and Digital Summit.