While the National Capital Region continues to share many of the COVID-19 economic worries of the rest of Canada and the world, there are some positive stories. Early on, The Feds were able to impressively overcome some initial worries and adapted quickly so their entire staff could work remotely. Now, more than half a year into the pandemic, the IT job market in the Ottawa area has been stable for a few months.
Much of the job market’s demand has to do with the growth that certain Federal Government departments are seeing as they play a key role in the country’s COVID-19 response — most notably Shared Services Canada, Canada Revenue Agency, Canada Border Services Agency, Employment and Social Development Canada, and Health Canada. Not only have these departments found themselves with new, unplanned projects to help the country cope with a situation nobody could have predicted, they have also been forced to fast-track several other implementations. For example, many departments are pushing forward on their implementation of M365 sooner than originally expected.
There are also signs that more is yet to come. Even the departments who aren’t growing head count now are using their downtime to put Supply Arrangements in place, ensuring that they’re prepared for staff augmentation as soon as they get the green light that things have ‘returned to normal’.
Competition through all of this is high and everyone is hungry. While the Federal Government is hiring, the overall economy in the region continues to be lower than usual. Those with skills in emerging technologies can still command top rates because the pool of resources is not as deep, but competition remains extremely high for most other IT positions. With more that 80% of our clients still having work forces working remotely, the candidate pool has opened to the province and even across the country.
Any client experience with emerging technologies continues to be the hottest skills sets and Cloud Architects are in high demand. We are also still seeing lots of requests for Systems Analysts, Testers, and Project Managers, and our private sector clients have lately been asking for resources with solid DevOps skills.
In addition to job market activity, job searching and hiring in Ottawa are seeing challenges comparable to other regions. While candidates and clients are getting more comfortable with video conferencing for interviews as they adjust to working from home, it is not ideal. We are also hearing that when a new contract starts, consultants have expressed struggles in connecting and building rapport. It is not impossible to do so, but certainly is taking longer to develop team chemistry. Clients are seeing similar challenges with various stages of onboarding, but both sides are adapting as our ‘new normal’ continues.
Overall, the NCR has a similar story to tell as most other cities world-wide, but the benefit of being home to the Federal Government has certainly helped. Their typical push for increased headcount in February/March is likely to start before Christmas to ensure people are in place to drive results in their 4th quarter. Stay tuned to our job board and be in touch with your Eagle contact for the latest opportunities in the NCR.