CALGARY -- A major global technology company has chosen Calgary for the next phase of its Canadian expansion and it promises to bring 500 jobs to the city over the next three years.

Infosys, an IT services and consulting firm, has more than 250,000 employees in 46 countries worldwide.  The company already has offices based in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, but now has plans to double its Canadian workforce to 4,000 employees by 2023. 

According to Infosys president Ravi Kumar, the company's arrival in Calgary is part of the plan to expand its client base across Western Canada, the Pacific Northwest and central United States. Kumar says Calgary has a large pool of talent and can help clients with needs in various industries including natural resources, energy, retail and communications.

“Calgary was a very important destination for us and we selected it for a number of reasons,” he said.

“The cost of living is low, there is a great availability of talent from traditional industries, you have a very good academic ecosystem, good quality of living and more importantly we could be the beacon for building a vibrant tech and digital services ecosystem.”

Kumar adds that Infosys has established six innovation and tech hubs in the United States and hired upward of 13,000 people there within the last three years.

He says Infosys is specifically interested in working directly with Canadian colleges and universities to hire students and bring them directly to their office in Calgary where they will work.

“It’s a great time to be in Calgary” Kumar said.

“Some our biggest clients are in the energy sector so it’s a great idea to bring the confluence of deep expertise in energy and digital capabilities.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenny agreed, calling the announcement from Infosys “one of the best days in Alberta’s economy in some years.”

“This announcement is a testament to the talent and opportunity that exists in Alberta as we continue our progress towards economic recovery and growth," he said.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi was also overjoyed with the news, noting that the city has spent a long time working to build its relationship with Infosys to expand their operations.

“This is the latest proof that the plan to diversify our city’s economy is working,” Nenshi said.

“We are focused on making sure that Calgary is a great place to make a living and a great place to make a life. That benefit stood out to Infosys, and we are excited to be partners in their Canadian growth plans.”

Infosys was originally founded in Bangalore, India in 1981 and has since expanded to 46 countries worldwide. According to the company’s website, the firm has become a US$13.15-billion company with a market capitalization of US$72.2 billion.

Tech students still struggling 

The struggle has been very difficult for Alberta students and past graduates still looking to gain employment, such as Michal Widomski who graduated with a Computer Science Degree from the University of Calgary in 2019.

“I have applied for hundreds of jobs since I graduated,” Widomski said. 

“The Infosys announcement sounds really encouraging, but you have to consider that there are I guess thousands of new graduates in the years since I’ve graduated and all of them are looking for a new job, Those 500 jobs are going to fill up fast.”

Widomski says the last few years have been a struggle, but he’s trying to stay optimistic.

“Ideally I’d like to stay here in Calgary, I’ve been here my whole life and I love it here, but if things don’t start looking up I am considering doing a masters program somewhere else," he said.

Jim Gibson, dean of SAIT’s School of Advanced Digital Technology, agrees there is a gap as industries reimagine themselves and the arrival of new jobs. 

“We have to provide programming that has a high currency meaning it’s quick, gets right to the heart of the rescaling manner and work closely with those whoa re creating the new jobs to identify local talent and be very close in partnership with entities like ours to support that transition," he said.

“The jobs will catch up, I’m convinced but in the short-term we have to have other strategies as post-secondaries to move through that very quickly.” 

More support needed: U of C Students' Union

Alberta post-secondary students are pleased with the news of tech firms expanding to Calgary, but many say that the province is setting them up to fail. 

University of Calgary Students’ Union president Frank Finley was pleased with the Infosys expansion, although noted that more investment is needed for post-secondary students.

“This government has called diversification a luxury and it’s really disappointing to see because of course we need it for our economy,” said Finley.

“This latest provincial budget cuts another huge chunk from post-secondary institutions for another consecutive year. There’s not very much more we can do to make it clear in the government’s head that we need to invest in post-secondary to be able to attract tech into this province and it’s horrifying to see these cuts continue.”

The recent provincial budget includes a 1.4 per cent decrease in funding for advanced education, which is roughly a $72-million cut. The province will also province 5.4 per cent less funding for post-secondary operations in the upcoming year, while schools will be expected to spend 2.3 per cent more.

The cuts also come with a projected loss of 750 full-time equivalent jobs at post-secondary institutions in 2021-22, according to the budget. 

Finley adds that the U of C saw a six per cent cut to its operating budget, which is the lowest amount since 2011 when the school had 4,300 fewer students.