Key Skills Tech Employers Need from Digitally Skilled Workers – Digital Nova Scotia – Leading Digital Industry
Key Skills Tech Employers Need from Digitally Skilled Workers

May 20, 2022

In our first blog post discussing digital sector results illustrated on the Workforce Insights Dashboard (which visualizes responses from the Workforce Insights Survey), we identified that Nova Scotia’s digital sector is predicting workforce increases to meet rising tech demand. Our provincial tech sector is thriving, and continuing to promote digital adoption in all areas of the economy. However, we also noted that digital respondents were worried they might not be able to hire enough skilled workers to meet the increased workforce demand. 

This begs the question: what are some of the skills or competencies Nova Scotian tech employers are looking for? Drawing on data for the digital sector from this survey, this blog post will identify the top 5 most in-demand digital skills employers identified during the survey, and explain how Digital Nova Scotia (DNS) and our partners are equipping the tech workforce of the future with these skills.

Identifying the Digital Skills Employers Desire: Marketing Is No. 1

The Workforce Insights Survey asked a series of unique questions to respondents who identified as members of the digital sector. One question asked what digital skills participants desired to see in prospective workers. We provided respondents a list of fourteen digital skills options identified from a review of academic and gray literature, along with a fifteenth option to identify “other” skills not listed. Respondents could select more than one skills option they desired from potential employees. The following skills were the top five most in-demand among digital employers who responded to the survey:

  1. Digital marketing (64%)
  2. Programming and coding (58%)
  3. Software/web/app testing (49%)
  4. Digital design (49%)
  5. Digital project management (46%). 

These results seem to align with the arguments posed by Cukier and Anani in a recent Policy Options article. In their article, Cukier and Anani posit that there will always be a demand for “deep technology skills”, but there appears to be a pressing need for people with skills to support digital adoption and transformation through knowledge translation and thought leadership such as marketing and sales experts, business and systems analysts, project managers, and more. 

There is also some alignment with national and international skills demand. The Salesforce Global Digital Skills Index 2022 results for Canada show that among Canadian employers, the second most important workplace digital skills were “digital administrative” and the fourth most important was “project management technology”. Canada’s Job Bank gives a position like “Digital Marketing Coordinator” in Nova Scotia a “Good” prospect rating, the highest possible score, between 2021-2023. They predict that employment growth will lead to several new positions.

Digging deeper, what types of digital marketing skills are in-demand? According to Innovate BC from the results of their own national survey, the most important skills businesses are looking for when hiring for digital marketing roles are experience managing and engaging with social media of all types, search engine optimization (SEO), Instagram Ads management, Google Ads management and general web development.

The clear priority for digital marketing skills in workers shows us that Nova Scotia’s digital employers want to effectively communicate their products and brands to clients, and to expand their client networks by leveraging digital technologies. Further evidence of this can be found in our Digital Assistance Programs (DAP), where digital marketing supports were highly requested services by program participants.  

DNS Is Equipping the Future Workforce

In order to market in the digital economy, tech sector businesses need the right people with the right skills – something which is harder and harder to come by in an increasingly competitive labour market. When asked about recruitment challenges, 46.7% of respondents identified difficulty finding qualified labour in the local area as their number one recruitment challenge, followed by a shortage of experienced labour and high competition for staff in the same industry or sector at 36.7%, respectively. 

DNS and our partners are leading skills and career development initiatives to equip business owners and the provincial workforce with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in tech. One such program is the Next Level Skills Programs. Since 2015, DNS has provided members with invaluable training opportunities with the assistance of Nova Scotia’s Workplace Innovation and Productivity Skills Incentive (WIPSI). In 2022, DNS is proud to host 5 industry-led programs focused on improving positive business outcomes, such as a Project Management Institute Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) Certification program hosted by BrenDaniel Productions. Agile project management is a high-demand methodology in the digital sector, and can certainly improve project and product delivery. Space is limited in all five programs, with one program already full as of writing this blog! We encourage you to reach out and apply as soon as possible if you are interested. 

Another impactful skill and career building program is Get Into IT! Now beginning its second cohort, this program is delivering accessible tech-based virtual skills training to equity-deserving candidates across Nova Scotia. Its objective is to support learners who have faced barriers entering the digital workforce, such as Indigenous Persons, Black Nova Scotians, persons of African Descent, racially visible individuals, persons with disabilities, immigrants, and women in their pursuit to obtain a tech career. In partnership with industry recognized training provider Coursera, the program is providing participants with accredited 3-4 month long courses in high demand tech skill sets, professional development support, mentorship, and exposure to job opportunities. Get Into IT! has already made major impacts which you can read about here, and if you’re interested in meeting our students to fill talent needs, please reach out! 


The results of the Workforce Insights Survey indicates that Nova Scotian digital employers desire workers with conventional skills to execute technology adoption, such as programmers, as well as workers with skills to understand the purpose and value of technology through digital marketing specialists and efficient project managers. Equipping the future workforce with a combination of both of these skills will surely prepare your employees to make the biggest possible impact on your business, as well as their own career progression.

Digital Nova Scotia is proud to take an active role in promoting and shaping the successes of our sector. Our leadership and dedication to delivering high quality skills and career development programs, and communicating with our sector members and other partners to address current and emerging workforce opportunities, will continue to help tech business grow and thrive. 

Note: The Workforce Insights Survey was coordinated between AISC and its 14 industry sector councils to gather labour market information from consenting employers between December 2021 – February 2022. The anonymous results of the survey were used to create the labour market information dashboard. This is a free, virtual tool accessible to provincial businesses and other stakeholders that can be used to inform human resource and strategic planning for your business. It’ll do this by providing concise and timely labour market information. We want to provide Nova Scotian businesses the best data to create the best outcomes.