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Canadian Job Market Update

In the second half of 2018 the general message to technology job seekers is a positive one, and below I will explain why, and also why there is some caution to that statement.

On the face of things a 5.8% unemployment rate is as good as it has been, and Canada has created 240,000 jobs (mostly full time) in the last twelve months which is all good.  The downside for the economy is that a large portion of those jobs have been public sector, which while good for the job seeker today is not at all good for Canada’s economy.  As we have seen in Ontario, a change in political power means that investment in public sector jobs can change quickly as Ontario has a hiring freeze and a pay freeze for executives.  Overall I expect there to be plenty of opportunity in the public sector due to the large numbers of retirees that will need to be replaced, even if new jobs are curtailed.

Canada’s economy, like most of the world, is doing well. The TSX as a representative market indicator is in around the 16,500 points which is about 1,500 higher than last year.  The price of a barrel of oil is up around 65c which is much better than the $50 we saw perhaps a year ago.  As indicated above, the unemployment numbers are also good.  The Canadian dollar has ranged between 75c and 80c for a while, but NAFTA negotiations, the trade war with the US, the potential carbon tax impacts, loss of investment in Canada, the continuing oil patch debacle and recent labor law changes in Ontario can all conspire to change the situation.

One of the drivers of opportunity for jobs in Canada is the success of the US market, which has added jobs consistently, month over month since the last recession.  The stories of skills shortages, particularly in tech are common.  The TechServe Alliance attributes the slowing in growth of IT jobs to the growing skills shortage in the tech space.  We are seeing, and will continue to see large Global companies with headquarters in the US opting to add capacity in Canada, where there is an educated workforce, in similar time zones and within easy reach of head office.  Amazon, Facebook, Google and others have announced such activity in recent months.  So opportunities will exist for people willing to relocate to the US, in addition to jobs in Canada being created by US companies.

The GTA is Canada’s largest market, and is home to more head offices than any other city in Canada by a large margin.  The financial sector is largely headquartered here and is a huge employer of technology resources.  The telecommunications industry also has a large tech base in the GTA.  As the fourth largest city in North America the GTA represents 60% of Eagle’s business and probably 60% of tech jobs in Canada.

Tech job activity is relatively strong in most markets across Canada.  The one exception would be Calgary, which has not returned to pre-oil crisis levels of activity but is still busier this year than last.

The type of roles that have been in most demand at Eagle in the recent past have been developers, business analysts, project managers, Sys Admins, Architects and database admins.

In summary, people with tech skills should have little difficulty in finding employment, either contract or perm for the foreseeable future.  A willing ness to relocate to the bigger centres will only increase their marketability.  The only potential downside is whether Canada can maintain its competitiveness given the aggressive approach of the US administration in supporting US business.  I expect our government to act at some point to provide relief to Canadian business.

Our advice to clients is to ensure there are clear, clean hiring practices that move quickly through the hiring process.  It is a candidate market again and that means the best talent is snapped up quickly, often with multiple offers.

That’s my look at the Canadian Job market to date in 2018.