Current economic forecasts for BC are a bit of a mixed bag. Most economists are predicting an economic slowdown over the next three years, according to a report released Thursday by credit unionCentral 1. The report specifically references the housing market downturn impacting GDP growth in BC.
It is expected that the resultant drop in demand and prices will trigger a sharp contraction in housing construction and reduced condominium pre-sale activity which will result in “the most pronounced drop in broader residential development since 2009.”
At the same time, another credit rating agency, the Domestic Bond Rating Service (DBRS Ltd.), confirmed the provinc’s long-term debt rating at AA (high) and the short-term debt rating R-1 (high). DBRS Ltd. stated in a news release “The ratings remain well supported by the province’s diverse and growing economy, positive outlook, ample fiscal capacity and low debt burden.”
DBRS’s rating comes after the international credit rating agency Moody’s confirmed in January its AAA rating of B.C., making it the only province in Canada to be rated triple A by all three international credit rating agencies (Moody’s, Standard and Poor and Fitch).
Another bright spot is an expected uptick in capital investment, including LNG projects which should drive associated construction and infrastructure projects. Is a pipeline in the future? With a new government in Alberta, expect that conversation to heat up quickly. And with the aforementioned triple A rating, the cost to borrow remains attractive which should continue investment in BCs infrastructure and public services.
So what does that mean for you as an IT professional?
It should mean that things will not change all that much. The very low unemployment rates in the province and even lower rates for information technology should be considered positive factors for opportunity. BC remains an attractive location for business and a cooling, more reasonable housing sector should, in theory, correct one of the structural impediments to attracting talent. Public sector spending shows no sign of weakening as municipal and provincial governments respond to demand from their constituents for new and better servicing. In fact, the healthcare sector in particular is experiencing massive transformation and this is driving a need for project specialists.
If you have specific experience with Cerner or other large Electronic Health Records packages, you’ve probably noticed that you are in demand and you’re probably shutting down LinkedIn in an effort to get away from recruiters and headhunters who are trying to connect with you.
But it’s not just specialist skills that are in demand. These projects are large and touch so many aspects of an organization that we are seeing requirements for all skillsets including the pillars of any initiative, Project Managers, Business Analysts, Architects, Developers and Testers. And as with any transformative work, we’ve seen a large uptick in the demand for Change Managers and Organizational Change Managers.
The one downside to these opportunities is often the mandatory requirement that candidates have previous clinical or healthcare experience. The question our recruiters are most often asked by clearly frustrated candidates is “How do I get experience in healthcare, if they won’t hire me because I lack healthcare experience?” The first step is to get an understanding of the types of technologies and software used throughout the industry (ex. Cerner), and determine if your current skills or toolset are transferable. If not, you may need further training or experience. But in the meantime, you can certainly use that knowledge to craft your selling message to recruiters and hiring managers.
What’s hot besides healthcare?
And the cloud continues to drive demand for infrastructure specialists and integration experts who can get “on premise” and cloud systems talking to each other.
As I’ve mentioned before, if any of this is familiar to you and your area of expertise, you should feel pretty good about your employment or engagement opportunities in BC. The public sector and crown corporations are robust. Work, especially in the health sector, has exploded and there is no reason to believe it will slow down. The private sector has a good mix of large, traditional corporations delivering products and services along with a steady influx of startup and app centric software shops. All in all, BC currently offers lots of opportunity but as always in Information Technology, having a bit of a specialization will help open doors.