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Canadian IT Job Market - January 2007

Over the past month, there was a notable increase in the "execution" phase of projects in Western Canada as companies attempted to tie-up loose ends before the holiday season. And, as IT projects rolled into the New Year, there was great interest in extending contracts. IT activity was strong throughout December including over the holidays with the notable exception of those companies practicing a full shut-down. This caps a year that had consistently strong demand for IT resources.

On a regional note, the Alberta Government is seeing big political changes and this means that many departments are being very careful in their 2007 plans as they search for certainty, evaluate changing priorities and decide on direction. This has the potential to foster tentative IT planning; however, Eagle has witnessed a slew of government tenders released over the holidays which promises to give the government sector a lift in activity after the relatively slow activity over the last quarter.

Requirements for permanent, as well as contract resources, close the year out with strong demand. Based on feedback collected from the market, the outlook for 2007 promises to be at least as strong as 2006! Hot skills, as mentioned below, will likely remain in high demand for at least the next six months and capabilities in new technologies will see growing interest as the year progresses. An example of this includes people with skills and certifications for Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office. As companies become ready to deploy these technologies, they will be searching for knowledgeable resources to assist with the transition from older technology.

For Western Canada, hot skills include Developers for many technologies, Testers, Business Analysts, Business Intelligence Experts and people with ITIL capabilities. Demand for SAP, a hot skill for many months, is still growing in demand - in fact, there is need for technical and functional resources across all modules at all career levels. Across the West's major cities, demand for December could be characterized as follows:

• Edmonton: .NET Developers and Oracle Developers
• Vancouver: Java Developers, .NET Developers and Testers
• Calgary: SAP, Business Intelligence/ETL/Date Warehousing skills and ITIL
• Winnipeg: Java Developers, .NET Developers and Business Analysts

There was a noticeable slow-down in hiring activity over the month of December in the GTA. This is a typical trend for this time of year and 2006 was no exception in this region. Many people took two weeks off to enjoy the holidays. The one deviation from this typical slow down was government activity. There was increased hiring and RFS activity with the government in the GTA through the month of December, higher than normally experienced at this time of year. The hiring activity within the Financial Sector continues to be slow since their October year-end, however, there are strong indicators that this will change towards the end of January and that hiring activity will increase through January and February.

Full-time hiring activity remains stronger than that on the contract-side. Salaries being offered to full-time employees are at the highest that they have been in a number of years. As a result, many contractors continue to move back into full-time positions and out of the contracting world.

Hot skills in the GTA on the contract side include SAP (all modules). In-demand skills on the full-time hiring side continue to include Project Managers, Java Developers, as well as, Business Analysts.

With the holidays behind us and the New Year in full swing, many technology executives and managers in Eastern Canada are taking stock of current and future projects. Resource planning, although now an ongoing, twelve month activity, remains chief among their priorities from both a budget perspective and project success, failure or delivery completion perspective.

It was interesting to observe this year, more so than most in recent memory that overall, activity remained relatively high or higher than usual as the holidays approached and in fact, throughout the holidays. The hot market of 2006 assuredly made its presence felt throughout December and manifested itself in a number of ways. Hiring managers, more than any previous December, worked well in advance to extend contracts to avoid any late December scramble, a typical trend of past years. It was apparent that one lesson of 2006 was to ensure contract extensions are secured well in advance as contractors clearly had more options this year. In addition, many managers worked to ensure their requirements were being met, arranging and in some cases, conducting interviews in what had been the typical down time between Christmas and New Years. The Federal Government continued to issue RFPs with only a slight decrease as the month wound down. The demand for full-time resources continued to surge in both Montreal and Ottawa throughout the month. In fact, Ottawa bucked the trend in 2006 as technology jobs increased over the year while overall employment levels tailed off significantly as the year wound down.

There continues to be strong pressure on wage rates as we begin the New Year. Undoubtedly rates at the senior levels of most technology positions have moved up, some very significantly (SAP for example), as the Western Canada boom ripples through the rest of the country. Many clients have recognized this and are adjusting budgets and forecasts accordingly to best absorb projected cost increases going forward. With senior technology resources being able to effect projects significantly towards successful completion, decision makers have been able to more readily justify and absorb increased rates. With many economists predicting slow growth overall in the economy in 2007, especially in Ontario, it will remain interesting to see how this tale of two economies unfolds and affects wage rates throughout the year.

In demand skills for the East continue to be SAP Functional and Technical resources particularly in the HR and Finance modules, Java/J2EE Developers, Project Managers, Business Analysts as well as Quality Assurance resources.