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Canadian IT Job Market - September 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!

A solid month with strong demand for IT resources and increased average number of hours worked versus July. This describes the IT contract market across most of the West in August. The one exception is the Manitoba market which seems to have checked out for extended summer vacations (although there were some indications of new life nearing the end of the month).

As summer wears down, the IT contractor market heats up. The "big players" - Oil & Gas in Calgary, Government in Edmonton and the combination of Government and integrators in Vancouver/Victoria - were beginning their fall resource planning with an increased number of orders. Overall, new contractor stats were up by over 20% and extensions were strong as well. Longer term trends, such as a commitment to ERP enhancements and upgrades, are keeping the larger organizations busy and continue to drive demand for BAs, PMs and SAP/Peoplesoft/JDE subject matter experts. ECM is of growing interest as companies strive to better organize their data.

There has been a "run" on Business Analysts over the past month. With the spike in demand, senior resources are seeking (and in most cases getting) a premium rate. Hot skills across the West include PMs, BAs, Java Developers for BC; Oil and Gas mid/up stream expertise, ECM, SAP and Oracle in AB; and PMs, BAs and Developers in Manitoba.

Through the month of August in the GTA, there were strong indications that many projects were on the move from planning and analysis stages into the next level of the development lifecycle. There also seemed to be a change in focus for many organizations as they moved from hiring functional roles, to more technically driven roles such as Technical Architects and Developers. There were high levels of activity from Fortune 500 organizations. From the financial sector, some of the leading banks offered many high-level contracts for Business Analysts and Senior Level Developers. With a lot of projects moving from planning to development, it is an anticipated that the financial sector will be increasing development efforts and QA positions. Many of the projects involve Java, C/C++, .NET, Siebel and Mainframe technologies.

From the public sector, many of the projects currently in progress, are related to network and system development. The public sector also released some high profile Business Intelligence/Data Warehousing opportunities. From the utilities sector, there has been a number of project management and architectural roles indicating that this sector may be gearing up for future activity, creating an increasing competitive market for the coming months.

Hot Skills in the GTA include: Java, C/C++, PeopleSoft, .NET, Mainframe.

After a relatively quiet summer in Eastern Canada, which saw both clients and consultants alike take well needed vacations, most indications are for a steady if not spectacular finish to 2007 and more of the same heading into 2008. Despite jittery capital markets, a clearly slumping US economy and a Canadian dollar that just doesn't seem to quit, employment in Ottawa and in fact, most of the East continues to be robust and mostly coming from two engines, technology and government. Technology employment in Ottawa, continues its 6 month upward trend since March of '07 with total employment now at 64,200. This is still below the heady numbers of 2000 but significant in their direction up if nothing else. There is clearly a quiet confidence among many hiring organizations and candidates in this market that has largely been impervious to some of the significant factors affecting the overall Ontario/Quebec markets, like the soaring loonie that has eroded areas like the Ontario manufacturing sector significantly. As mentioned in previous newsletters there has been a large number of contractors who have converted from contract to permanent positions in the last 18 to 24 months and that trend is expected to continue. Many employers continue to express that the option to "test drive" contractors before offering them permanent positions is an attractive one, as well as being another strategic recruiting avenue that allows them to open doors to a segment of the workforce that they previously may not have had access to. Consultants, as well, are provided a similar option then in deciding whether the employer's culture, projects and growth potential will align with theirs before accepting permanent full-time roles. As some contractors leave the contract market to become employees, this will no doubt serve to continue to tighten up an already scarce contractor market, with continued upward pressure on rates and shorter time to hire being just a couple of the expected effects. There is more and more open discussion, if not downright fear being expressed among the senior levels of the bureaucracy in the Federal Government these days about the looming labour shortages, particularly among IT professionals at senior levels of government. Talent Management Systems, outsourcing, immigration levels, retraining and education, along with collaboration between industry and educational institutions are but a few of the mechanisms being discussed as potential solutions. All will undoubtedly play a role but at this stage there seems to be little change taking hold in the pipeline.

Hot skills in Eastern Canada this month are: QA Testers, Java Developers, Oracle HR/Benefits Consultants, as well as Bilingual BAs and Project Managers and SAP Trainers in HR and MM modules.