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Regional Job Market Update for Ottawa, Ontario (May 2021)

​The state of Ottawa's IT job market remains similar to our last update -- relatively stable and generally protected from major impacts of the pandemic that have devastated other regions. That has perhaps been primarily driven by the Federal Government's COVID-19 response, which is still calling for a variety of projects and generating employment opportunities in the tech space.

Leading up to the government's year-end at the end of march, some particular departments especially had growth, namely Shared Services Canada (SSC), Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Now, a couple months into the fiscal year, early indications show that other departments are also taking a harder look at priorities and needs, resulting in progress towards a normal return. Of course, there will be a better understanding of what's to come once budgets and annual plans for this fiscal are released in the coming weeks, but overall, while the focus was stability and status quo in many areas, some difficult decisions will be made.

Like everywhere else in the world, Ottawa's employment market is seeing a strong shift in behaviour and perceptions about remote work. We're seeing this both from both the employer and job seeker side. For the first time, many government departments and crown corporations are deepening their talent pool and opening their search to the rest of the country (although there is a preference for people in the Eastern time zone) and most private companies in the region are also taking similar actions. There are still some departments and organizations who are keen to have staff return to the office post-pandemic, but this may present challenges as time progresses. The workforce has adapted, and productivity remains high, so hiring organizations will need to be conscious of what their competition is offering top talent.

Remote work has also been a key driver of demand for hot skills in the NCR, with emerging technologies still at the forefront of demand in the private and public sector. Exposure to any cloud technologies, for any job role, is a benefit and highly sought after. The same can be said for all roles in the cyber security space. Project Managers with Agile Certification are consistently popular, as well as Java Developers.

Although not a tech skill, another requirement for nearly all Federal Government job opportunities is a Reliability Status or Security Clearance to some level. With so many new applicants being considered outside the NCR now, it's natural that that process is also seeing higher volumes as more people go through the process of satisfying that prerequisite.

Generally speaking, it is expected that the summer should be a bit slower in terms of hiring, as we cautiously get back to normal. While it's important to take a summer break, we always recommend IT contractors also capitalize on this slower period to both network and prepare for upcoming opportunities. September to December are expected to pick back up as there should be a clearer path forward by then so it will be wise to ensure you're as prepared as possible.