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The Job Market Across Canada - March 2006 Edition

In the last 30-45 days, Western Canada has seen some interesting spikes in activity. A number of the Provincial Governments in the West have gone on very rapid hiring subcontractor sprees for their projects prior to fiscal year end, a number of organizations, especially in the energy sector, launched large scale hiring programs for IT people to become full time employees (or announced the outsourcing of their IT groups), and lastly, there is a clear indication that many IT professionals have multiple offers and options to consider at contract signing time, hence the competitiveness of organizations' trying to land top people for their teams has become much more challenging for them. Hot skills in the marketplace in the West include: high continued demand for functional expertise in Project Managers (especially ITIL or Agile), Business Analysts and/or Testers, intermediate level application developers with either Java or .Net experience, and Oracle or MS SQL DBAs. SAP and Peoplesoft demand flattened recently in the West but is expected to re-surge in the very near future. Overall, the IT market remains very robust and active from Winnipeg to Victoria.

In the Central region, many permanent employees are looking to jump into contracting. There has been a rise in international opportunities which has led other countries (not only the United States) to entice contractors from across Canada. Contractor talent pools are getting tighter with contractors having a number of offers at once. The year-to-date has been busy with companies having new budgets to get new projects started. There has also been an increase in RFP activity from many organizations resourcing for new projects. Government departments have also been busy, as they use up their 2005 fiscal year budgets for projects before their fiscal year end. Hot skills within the central region include: Livelink, SAP, Project Managers and Security Consultants.

A relatively mild February in Eastern Canada was a sharp contrast to what looks to be a hot market for both contract but even more so, permanent requirements as clients act on what were previously only positive predictions and intentions. It is now evident that for some sectors, a full blown recovery is gaining traction and resourcing is a huge challenge. The telecommunications sector in general, and in particular companies that provide software and application development to companies that develop telecommunications products are having tremendous success as near shore outsourcing partners. US based telecoms appear to be looking more and more to Canada as a viable and in many respects cost effective alternative, and on shore partners have regained some market share. Several Ottawa based companies in this space are looking to external resourcing partners for Java, J2EE, C, C++ and C# developers with telecom backgrounds in addition to strong , experienced telecom PMs with extensive experience and ability around customer interaction. Several of the former titans in the industry have moved aggressively to hiring recently causing ramifications throughout, not anywhere near the extent of the heady days of the 90's but enough to warrant observing for clients and staffing agencies alike. We have yet to see a corresponding spike in rates and salaries as organizations are acutely aware of bottom lines and cost containment and not likely to repeat the same mistakes of earlier days. Supply and demand will no doubt bring pressure to this marketplace and it would be a safe assumption that salaries will predictably rise.
In Ottawa, several departments and agencies continue to wrestle with the notion that the Federal Government's new procurement vehicle is not expected to see the light of day before late spring if not early summer and with contracts and supply arrangements running into their natural expirations, options to continue to procure technology are limited. The amount of effort required to write, tender, evaluate and award RFP's and SO's is daunting, indeed from both the issuer and supplier communities, hence departments are hopeful that the delay is temporary and not something that signals a new strategic direction on behalf of the government. Hot skills this month vary by branch. Halifax saw demand for .Net Developers, Remedy Developers as well as Java resources, in Montreal there was a continued need for Healthcare IT resources Maximo candidates. Ottawa has several needs for Java, J2EE and .Net Developers and Testers with telco experience in addition to customer facing telecom PMs.