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Canadian IT Job Market - June 2007

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

The IT market for Western Canada remains brisk and shows much more strength compared to last year's slowdown at this time. Government RFPs seeking IT resources in Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg have been steady. Again, this is an anomaly compared to last year where government spending on IT resources peaked in the early months of the year and fell off thereafter. The hot market is encouraging permanent employees to consider contracting as rates continue to climb and work is plentiful, meaning that government organizations (and all organizations for that matter) are struggling to find and keep key IT skill sets. As the market in Eastern Canada begins to heat up, the availability of "transplanted" resources will begin to dry up - indeed, some would suggest that the effects of this are already being felt. Dearth of resources, as much as rate arbitrage, can encourage firms to consider off-shoring, and recent announcements from western companies indicate that at least three separate companies will be leveraging this strategy - one is off-shoring its helpdesk, another its ERP management and another will be completing a full-outsourcing of its IT services abroad.

Although demand is strong for IT resources across the board, one technology in particular stands out - SAP. Demand is expected to grow significantly for people with skill sets relating to SAP. There seems to be a perfect storm brewing which is expected to hit over the next 12 to 18 months. On the one hand, there are at least three large Calgary companies that have announced that they will be adopting this technology and at least two other mega-projects in other parts of Canada requiring potentially hundreds of skilled SAP resources, that are expected to get under way later this year. On the other hand, SAP has announced that they will be ending their support for clients running SAP R/3 4.6B & 4.6C within the next two years which is resulting upgrade projects within a large number of companies. According to one industry source, as many as 85% of SAP's customers are running either 4.6B or 4.6C. This, along with the regular demand associated with other companies interested in developing and/or expanding SAP's functionality, suggests that demand for skilled resources is about to "spike".

Hot skills in demand include .NET, BAs, PMs, UNIX Administrators, Network Support Analysts and HelpDesk in Vancouver; .NET, PMs, BAs and Oracle Developers in Edmonton; SAP, Oil & Gas Upstream, Agile/ITIL, Document Management/ECM, BI in Calgary; and SAP, PMs, BAs, Security Consultants, .NET and DBAs in Winnipeg.

In the GTA, the IT market experienced continued momentum from the previous month in both the public and private sectors. The public sector continues to experience an increased demand for IT professionals with health care experience, in addition to an increased demand for business intelligence specialists. The private sector has really begun to recognize the "consultants market" and is responding by picking up the pace through the candidate selection process. The banking industry continues to see the need for various roles including project managers, business analysts, developers and testers.

Rumours and chatter around the globe confirm that Toronto is gaining a reputation as a top destination for IT development and IT near-shoring activity. This coupled with the growth of Toronto's financial services sector, sets the stage for some exciting times. According to the Canadian Bankers Association, Canada's six largest banks collectively spent $3.9 billion on technology - more than double the $1.8 billion in annual technology spending seven years ago (Source: CBA, Technology and Banking). Other high growth industries affecting the GTA include: Healthcare, Hi-Tech, Retail, Professional Services and Telecom.

The Toronto Region Research Alliance (TRRA) recently released a study by IBM's New Jersey-based Global Location Strategies Team which compared Toronto to six of the most successful ICT venues worldwide in terms of its attractiveness as an investment location. The regions studied included Bangalore, Boston, Frankfurt, Manchester, San Jose and Washington, D.C.

The study looked at four ICT sub-sectors: digital media, professional shared services, next generation electronics and specialist software development.

Overall, the study found that Toronto's Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector ranked with world leaders and finished well ahead of the pack in digital media. Toronto received top grades for quality and came second only to Bangalore for low operating costs. In next generation electronics and specialist software development, Toronto ranked very competitively against other North American alternatives.

Continuing to be known as the third largest ICT cluster in North America, Toronto ranked as the most ideal location in two sub-sectors, digital media and professional shared services.

Within digital media, Toronto received high marks for its strong base of creative industries, its large pool of computer programmers and creative media talent and its attractiveness as a place to live for international recruits.

This is all great news for Toronto's ICT sector and promises interesting and busy times ahead for all of us working in this sector! Hot skills in demand within the GTA continue to be: Java Developers, ASP, .Net, SAP (all modules), C#, Rational Rose. BAs in banking/insurance, QA leaders in insurance, Solutions Architects, BPO Consultants, System Analysts and Project Managers, SharePoint, SQL, Oracle, Tandem, Cognos, Java, and Mainframe.

Eastern Canada for the most part, continued at a steady if not spectacular pace as the weather warmed and a wet spring turned quite pleasant. There is considerable chatter in technology circles in both Montreal and Ottawa with the future of Bell Canada Inc., as what had been suspected for a long time is now very publicly in the media, the private takeover of Bell. Focus has generally been on the ramifications of a sale of a very Canadian telco to a potential US-based buyer. Foreign ownership restrictions will ensure that there is a strong Canadian position regardless of how the sale proceeds, but the shear size of the equity requirements limit the number of potential Canadian participants mostly to the very large Canadian-based pension funds. No doubt whatever transpires, there will be a number of technology ramifications throughout the telco industry in the Eastern corridor and throughout Canada.

Meanwhile in Ottawa, uncertainty continues in the Federal Government as there are a number of contract vehicles, some quite large, either at, or at least coming to, their natural end. Procurement and the challenges associated are at the forefront of both suppliers and client's thoughts these days. One much anticipated solution on the horizon, the Task Based IPS, has been delayed once again to late June but most predict that deadline is now firm. With many large departments working diligently towards effecting operational efficiencies and application rationalization, the current procurement paralysis in Ottawa has had departments scrambling to hit timelines. The Shared Services initiative in federal government has many departments undergoing serious and rigorous reviews of legacy systems and applications that lack a cohesive architecture and in identifying applications that are no longer utilized, yet continue to require resources and scarce funds to maintain them. At the same time, a thorough analysis of projects is under way in many departments, however through a different view than in the past. More specifically, in analyzing what the business truly requires and not what or how IT can provide in a project. As more and more government services go online, Information Management is becoming an acute area of need in federal government departments and with IM comes security and security concerns. Throw in the fact that there continues to be a number of departments that are failing to meet security standards as set out in MITS and we can see that there will be a great deal of exciting, if not daunting, information technology work to be done in the Federal Government in the foreseeable future, now if we can only get to a conclusion on procurement.

Hot skills in Eastern Canada are: Information Architects as well as Application and Enterprise Architects, BAs, Testers and QA specialists, .Net developers and SAP resources particularly in the HR and Finance modules.