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The Contractor Job Outlook Across Canada

Each month we take a snapshot of the IT job market across Canada, from an Eagle perspective. I am sharing that information on this blog ... its probably the question people ask our recruiters most often. "So ... what's happening?" Below is the answer ... Enjoy!

The last month has been interesting for the IT labour market in Western Canada. For the first time in more than a decade, many organizations completely shut down their entire operations over the holidays (except for essential workers). Perhaps this had to due with the timing of Christmas and New Year's day falling on Sundays, but our interpretation and market feedback, was that companies made the decision to close down shop in order to give their employees/teams a break from a very vibrant and active time. This also implies that firms are very bullish about the economy remaining strong in the short- and mid-term, which continues to be great news for IT professionals who are finding themselves in high demand.

Two key indicators confirm what's happening out there:
1. A marked increase in the number of IT execs that have been discussing their IT resource plans for the next 3-6 months and specifically discussing numbers of additional hires in the 10-20-30+ people range vs the normal past trend of 1-2-3 new people type resource plans that have been prominent over the last 24-36 months; and,
2. The strategic move by the mayor of Calgary and the CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce to launch a national initiative and country wide search for skilled labour and to lure top talent to Calgary to help local organizations fulfill their hiring growth plans.

An even stronger surge of IT professionals interested in relocating to the West and to Calgary specifically, is anticipated which will also have ripple effects across many cities in Canada. Overall, it's all good news if you're in IT and in the West.

In December, everyone anticipated the holiday season slow down, however, organizations within Toronto and surrounding area awoke with a rush of feverish activity. In contrast to the previous months, the Ontario Government had a steady stream of contractual requirements from Testers to Project Managers.

As Fortune 500 clients complete their fiscal year end, a need for year end processing consultants continues to rise. With this being said, the Hot List from the GTA still includes SAP Functional Consultants. The SAP market is steadily becoming more demanding and module specific as new projects bloom. In addition, the PeopleSoft market continues to flourish.

In December there was a high demand for resources for various upgrades and implementations, ranging from PeopleSoft Financials to HRMS modules. This momentum spilled into full-time employment opportunities, with an onslaught of Tester opportunities from Financial Institutions. Network and Security Engineer roles have also proven to be an insistent need. As the market continues with its steady growth, 2006 is off to an excellent start.

As we pull out the old "technology crystal ball" (now out of warranty and not as reliable) to predict what's coming in 2006, there are a number of '05 developments and signs that point to a positive if not robust year ahead. In Ottawa, the high tech sector added 13,600 new jobs since December '04 putting high tech employment at 55,400, last month up slightly from November and well ahead of last December's 41,800. Year end surveys pointed us in a similar trend as both CIOs and hiring executives remain moderately bullish anticipating adding technology staff to implement new IT projects. In Ottawa, the much anticipated writ was dropped and a second election in as many years is upon us, effectively freezing some anticipated federal government technology initiatives. Once again, it seems as though the expected Federal Government IT procurement reform is a victim of circumstances with the vendor community now unsure as to when it will hit the streets, having missed a couple of expected timelines.

For the most part, Eastern Canada was quiet in the month of December, particularly Montreal and Halifax as it seems both clients and contractors alike observed the holidays to the fullest extent. Overall though, as the new year begins, it seems as though the technology market will continue to favour those looking for employment over employers and clients will have to continue to be strategic and ever mindful of talent retention and acquisition in resource planning. Then again that is an old crystal ball!