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Canadian IT Job Market - July 2007

The following information is supplied by Eagle's Regional General Managers across Canada on a monthly basis. Here is the latest on Canada's IT job market ...

Summer has finally arrived In Western Canada! With the warm temperature and school finishing for the year, many companies are running out of time to get their projects up and running before they lose project and business sponsors to vacations. Coming into the month of June, many projects had put PMs in place and BA roles were added to project teams to begin gathering requirements. Network Administrators and Application Support resources were growing in demand as part of regular summer maintenance projects and/or backfill to cover summer vacations.

Speaking of vacations, Western Canadian contractors have worked a very busy year and many have indicated that they are planning to take some time off this summer to "recharge their batteries". This suggests that finding available resources over the summer months and having contractors sign extensions may be more difficult.

Alberta is quickly gaining the reputation as an expensive place to live. Living costs for transplanted IT professionals have increased to the point that IT resources looking for permanent employment are reluctant to move due to the housing market. Even for contract work, travel and living expenses are making it difficult for organizations to afford out-of-towners. All these factors are increasing the pressure on the already overheated IT labour market.

In British Columbia and Manitoba, business continued to move along at a steady pace in June. Requirements for contract IT resources remained strong and these regions are beginning to feel the pinch when attempting to fill their permanent hire requirements. The full time employment rate is high, with most IT professionals either gainfully employed or evaluating whether the healthy contractor market might be right for them. This is making it increasingly difficult to attract full time resources. Victoria appears to be one of the lone cities across the West bucking this trend as they have begun to see IT people choosing to relocate there for "lifestyle" reasons. Slower pace, a stable economy and a reasonable cost of living have been cited as the drawing cards for people searching for "Island Living"... and the winters are not too bad, either!

Hot skills across the West include Unix, PMs, BAs and Help Desk resources in Vancouver/Victoria; Senior PMs, BAs and Oracle Developers in Edmonton; SAP technical and functional skill sets, Oracle Functional Consultants, .Net and Java Developers in Calgary; and PMs, BAs, Security Consultants and Developers in Winnipeg.

The month of June on the contract side in the GTA continued with high levels of activity with many Fortune 500 companies. The government sector released a number of high profile RFPs requiring the services of Project Managers, Architects and Analysts. Many System Integration companies also saw increased level of activity, winning opportunities dealing with Business Intelligence roles (COGNOS) as well as development roles specifically dealing with JAVA/J2EE and C/C++. In the financial sector, the banks continued to release more development opportunities dealing with JAVA, .NET and C.

We have seen an increase in full-time technology requirements from a number of industries. The financial services sector seems to have the largest demand, specifically for development opportunities. Canada's Telecommunications sector has been very interesting to watch, as the leading telcos in Toronto compete for top talent, such as PMs, BAs, Development Managers and Architects. In addition, candidates with Telco experience continue to be in hot demand. The healthcare sector continues to source highly skilled Developers and Architects in addition to, Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing which are also in high demand.

As the summer moves into its hottest months, many organizations are expected to increase their demand, creating an increasing competitive atmosphere for the coming months.

The hot skills this month in the GTA on the contract side include: JAVA/J2EE, .NET (ASP.NET) and PACBASEoa. In the full-time market the top in demand technical skills include: Java/J2EE, .net, C++, C# and Security Specialists.

Heading into the summer in Eastern Canada, activity was strong prior to the summer vacation period as many organizations move planned projects into implementation phases. Requirements were up significantly in both Montreal and Ottawa but the double whammy of overall candidate availability coupled with an even longer time to hire (as vacations kick in) meant many organizations were left with open positions and project resourcing challenges as the month ended.

It is abundantly clear as we move into the second half of the year that for many hot skill sets and technologies, hiring processes that in the past may have included multiple interviews across a range of participants are now leaving hiring managers high and dry as candidates get scooped up and/or extended on current projects beyond their natural contract end. The Federal government plays a role in this, being a significant buyer in the market, as its use of contractors is considerable with a much longer average contract length than most other industries and organizations. The result is much less "churn" in the market and reduced overall candidate availability for other private sector technology companies. A number of departments, however, have indicated that going forward there will be much more emphasis on using contractors appropriately, as needed, to fill the skill gap or project requirement only, so that the length of contract is not extended beyond that unless the business need absolutely requires it.

The permanent placement market does not appear to be experiencing the usual slowdown associated with the onset of the summer season as requirements continue to emerge. It's expected that the fall will be one of high demand as well.

The most significant development in the Ottawa/Federal government marketplace this month was the long awaited submission of the TBIPS, the government's new method of procuring information technology services, designed to streamline and simplify what had become a very cumbersome process for both clients and vendors in acquiring such services. A product of PWGSC's highly anticipated, The Way Forward initiative, it was late to hit the street and then once it did, bobbed and weaved its way through a series of vendor questions and crown answers and numerous extensions to the extent that many had dubbed it The Way Backward. Nonetheless, it is in and looks to be a vastly improved way to deliver services faster and more efficiently than ever. Both the vendor community and client departments should benefit from its simplicity and accessibility in the months and years to come.

Hot skills and technologies in Eastern Canada this month include: Project Managers (Telco), Business Analysts, SAP Consultants, Quality Assurance Consultants and Testers, as well as Data Warehouse Developers and .Net Developers.