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I.T. Contractor Job Market - Across Canada

Each month Eagle's Regional Vice Presidents put together this cross Canada look at the market ... here it is hot off the press!

In the West and across all six of the western cities where Eagle has operations (Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina and Winnipeg), IT hiring activity remains very active and in some cases acute shortages are starting to directly impact the ability for organizations to execute their project plans on time. In parallel, the speed at which clients are making decisions on interviewing, hiring and not hiring resources has definitely increased in response to the market demand and to ensure they can secure the right people that they want and need for their teams before losing them to other organizations. An interesting sideline observation - there has been a steady flow of expatriates coming back from their international assignments and projects, to work back here in Canada and these individuals have been very well received by many companies. The hot, hot skills in demand in the West today include: Testers, Livelink Experts, Documentum Specialists, TIBCO resources, JD Edwards resources (both functional and technical), SAP (everything) and .net Architects.

In the Toronto region, the New Year brought new budgets and projects, and with that came the flood of many staffing requirements, keeping the Eagle Team very busy!! The month of January was this region's busiest month since the start of the fiscal year back in September 2005. Clients in the GTA have a renewed sense of urgency which is starting to catch up to the boom being experienced in the West. SAP skilled resources are still in HOT demand with the focus being on functional rather than technical skills. These SAP skills are in short supply as many other regions have sought the GTA resources to meet their SAP skills shortages. Skills that were in demand over the last month included: Project Managers, Project Coordinators, Business Analysts (SOX, AML and BASEL) and Cobol, IMS/DB2 Developers. In addition, many data warehousing projects have gotten underway creating a new demand for BI and ETL skills. The Ontario Government continues to keep busy as many projects are being driven to meet fiscal year end deadlines. The staffing demand within the Ontario Government has also focused on Project Managers and Developers.
Overall, the job market in the GTA is gaining strength with many candidates being presented with multiple offers. As a result of this trend, many clients have become quicker with their response times in order to ensure they get the candidate they want. As we look forward to the warmer weather, we also look forward to the continued increased activity from clients and are poised to meet these needs. As the contracting market becomes more robust, contractor retention will prove to be the biggest challenge for all of us!!

Eastern Canada also continued to see increased demand in January although not to the extent being experienced in Western Canada where Alberta has become one of the world's most vibrant economies. Experienced and savvy contractors in Eastern Canada are looking to capitalize on this job boom together with a tax and investment friendly environment and are heading West, further exacerbating skill shortages in the East. On the other side, Western based consultants, who previously readily moved right across the country to various projects, are staying closer to home with more than enough options in projects and sectors in their own backyard. An interesting debate has developed in some Ottawa media about the veracity of the tech skills shortage with the lines drawn generally around clients and talent providers clearly articulating what they see and foresee in the market as a shrinking candidate pool while job seekers say it is a media driven phenomena with little or no legs, a debunkable myth. What both sides agree on, however, is that the market is clearly asking for and rewarding different, more specialized skills than in the past, skills that change rapidly with evolving demand, definitely leaving some out in the cold. The debate rages but what is not disputable is the continued decline in enrollment in universities in both undergraduate and graduate programs in Computer Science and related programs. This coupled with the looming boomer retirement will no doubt make for interesting times ahead.
There is, however, no question that contractors are turning down more offers as they have multiple offers in hand. There are modest rate increases in some areas as the "hot" market clashes with clients' efforts to control costs. Hot skills and roles in Eastern Canada include Project Managers, SAP resources both functional and technical, Healthcare IT resources, particularly bilingual Healthcare candidates, as well as, Cold Fusion and Documentum Consultants.