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Canadian IT Job Market - August 2006

This monthly feature compiled by Eagle's regional VPs has become quite a popular blog entry. This is their view of "what is hot" across Canada.

The IT market in the West remains active with just the slight vacation-related slow down in August in what feels like the calm before the storm. There was a noticeable spike in activity for senior-level resources (Project Managers, Analysts, Architects and SMEs) through the summer months as the early stages of projects kicked-off. This will undoubtedly lead to a high demand for technical resources as projects move to the next phase, with the hottest activity expected in the areas of programming (.Net, Java) and testing (UAT, automated, manual), as well as SAP, Biztalk, and Agile / Scrum methodologies. In addition to significant employer branding efforts across the West to attract talent, there has been an increased effort by both industry and government to brand the cities themselves. Marketing campaigns have fired-up across the West to sell the virtues of its cities to potential candidates across Canada and around the world. While migration West is certainly one option, it is undeniable that it is only one very small solution to a much larger problem. Despite indicators that might normally cause us to think otherwise - terrorism, war, escalating project costs, and uncertainty in the US economy - confidence in Western Canada remains high.

The month of July was a "scorcher" for the GTA! As the mercury level began to rise outside, so did activity within the IT community. Last month was a busy month in the contractor community with businesses securing IT resources for new projects within both the private and public sectors. The financial sector has many new initiatives, many companies are entering into new project phases with multiple requirements for the same roles, and government continues to finalize and initiate project plans that have been "in the works" for the past several months. Many organizations are now in final preparation for the start of new fall projects. While interviewing activity remains high, there has been an interesting emerging trend with Hiring Managers. Many of them are now foregoing the interview process on their side and relying on the screening done by staffing agencies in order to ensure the most qualified contractors can begin settling into their new roles quickly. Since many of the opportunities are for senior level professionals, client-based interviews are no longer necessary given tight timelines and a competitive labour market. With the ongoing demand still high for qualified and experienced contractors, the average length of contract opportunities are being extended to 6 months and beyond. As well, the trend for organizations to proactively pursue contract extensions 4 to 6 weeks prior to the original end date continues in an effort to ensure existing contractors remain on assignment through to project completion. Demand remains high for many skill sets in the GTA, with Project Managers, Business Analysts, PL/1, .Net and Flash expertise at the forefront. Demand for SAP, Business Analysts with Insurance or Banking, and Security experts remains high and is expected to continue. Full-time resource placements have slowed, as many companies are choosing to delay the process until Labour Day, the traditional turning point for increased hiring.

As we leave behind a sizzling month of July in the East, and move forward into August and September, as is the case with the rest of the country, many companies here are also planning a busy fall season leading well into 2007. Hot skills in the Ottawa and Montreal markets include PMs with Telco backgrounds with experience in Voice, VOIP and Data Networks. There is an anticipated strong demand for these skills throughout the fall and upcoming winter months. In addition, there is continued strong demand for both full-time and contract SAP resources particularly in modules FI/CO, MM and HR. Montreal and Ottawa markets also require .Net Developers, Security Consultants and Business Intelligence candidates especially those with Cognos skill sets.