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Canadian IT Job Market - Monthly update

Eagle’s Regional General Managers create a cross Canada look at the job market every quarter. These are available in our newsletter at the Eagle website, and I publish them as a blog entry the most recent being in January. Given the current economic climate, and the fact that we are asked every day by clients, contractors and even our neighbors “what is going on?”, we thought that we would try to insert a short monthly update between those reports. This is our first attempt and I’m hoping you find value in it.

The last update was in January and the general news from across the country was very similar. There is a softening in demand, all organizations are looking hard at reducing budgets and there are a growing number of IT people in the ranks of the unemployed. This means that there are more qualified people available for work, when we had anticipated shortages … this of course is exacerbated because the retirement plans of many “boomers” are on hold until their retirement savings recover.

Having said that, companies still have work to be done and if they need extra help then contractors are a great fit, providing needed skills without the commitment of bringing in full time staff at a time when many companies have implemented hiring freezes.

Comparing the first couple of months in 2009 to the last few months in 2008 here at Eagle, we are seeing a much bigger flow of resumes coming through our website. In fact the numbers have probably doubled. This is partly due to an increase in out of country applicants, who perceive Canada to be a “land of opportunity” that is less impacted by global economic conditions than most. There is however an increase in Canadian applicants also, for the reasons mentioned above.

If I compare the number of job orders that we receive, they are down a little but not significantly, but what we are seeing is clients being “pickier”. Where in the Fall a client might accept a candidate that was a “close fit” to their requirements, today they want the perfect candidate. Clients are also very conscious of their budgets and being extra careful about getting the best possible price. This results in a slightly slower “hiring cycle”.

The biggest differences between the Fall and now can be seen in Alberta, which has been seriously impacted by the dropping price of a barrel of oil. The oil sands projects in particular have been hit “bigtime” which affects much of Alberta, and the resultant decrease in tax revenues will impact the Alberta Government in Edmonton. Through the current economic downturn Ontario has probably been the most impacted over all, but this has been an ongoing issue for almost a year when the financial institutions started to reduce spending and the manufacturing sector continued to be decimated. A recent conference board document suggests that Saskatchewan and Manitoba are the two provinces most likely to weather the storm well, and might be the new land of opportunity!