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Regional Job Market Update for Calgary, Alberta (July 2021)

Regional Job Market Update for Calgary, Alberta (July 2021)

With an improving economy, public health restrictions lifted and major progress on the vaccination front, things are looking up! While employment rates in our province have been slowly improving, the unemployment rate in the City of Calgary is still higher than we would like it to be at 9.2% . The news on the tech front, however, is much better. Calgary is continuing to climb in the rankings of North America's tech hot spots. Ranked 28th in North American markets for its ability to attract and develop tech talent, Calgary is becoming recognized as a place to be. Further to that, recent research shows that the unemployment rate for roles in the Digital Economy is currently at 3.7%, which creates some recruiting challenges and highlights a significant skills mismatch in our city! 

Since the start of 2021, the Eagle team has seen a significant increase in demand for IT resources across the country and Calgary has been no exception. In the second quarter, Eagle's order volume in Calgary was nearly 50% higher than what we expect in a "normal" year and it is showing no signs of slowing down. Demand is across the board and related to innovation, digital transformation, and M&A, as well as an increased emphasis on security and data driven decision making. 

Hiring activity has been highest in the following areas and we expect this to continue through to the end of the year (and likely beyond):

  • Full Stack Developers 

  • DevOps

  • Data Engineers 

  • Cyber Security Specialists 

  • Solution Architects 

  • Software-focused PM's and BA's

  • Data Scientists 

  • Integration Specialists 

Specific technologies in demand include: 

  • .NET, C#, Python, Java, DataBricks, Network/Cyber Security apps, AWS, Azure, SaaS, Automation/Chatbot technology, ServiceNow, SAP, Oracle Cloud ERP, ETRM 

  • Additionally, there are several broader labour market trends to be aware of: 

Fraudulent Candidates: Fake candidates are on the rise. While this has been on our radar for many years – and we have many tools and processes in place to catch it – we have seen an alarming increase in fraudulent candidates that coincided with the rise in remote work. Daily, Eagle's recruiters are encountering candidates who are not who or what they say they are including:

  • Falsified work experience and academic credentials 

  • The exact same resume being used by multiple people 

  • Fraudulent references 

  • The interviewed candidate differs from the person who shows up on the first day. 

Stringent recruiting and onboarding processes have become even more critical going forward.

Return to Workplace: Calgary companies are leading the way with return to workplace plans and there are a wide range of return to office strategies at play. This will impact the labour market as knowledge workers have become accustomed to working remotely and many career decisions will now also consider work location and/or flexibility as a key deciding factor. We do expect companies who return to a mandatory 100% onsite work requirement to face some recruitment and retention issues as a result. 

Labour Market Movement: Retention should be on everyone's radar to watch and manage over the next year. With the challenges of the pandemic, we saw much less voluntary labour market movement than we would under normal circumstances. Many people put a pause on plans to change and "hunkered down" to ride out the pandemic. With a hot IT job market, we anticipate workers reconsidering career options and choosing work and workplaces that suit their work style and career goals best. 

Global Labour Market: We are seeing a major step forward towards a more global labour market, where geography is no longer as important as it once was. Companies across North America are competing for the same pool of highly skilled talent and it is only a matter of time before that expands globally. This is creating additional challenges in recruiting local talent for on-site only roles.

Wider Use of Contingent Workers: As we expect that some business uncertainty could prevail through the rest of 2021, our clients in Calgary are increasingly leaning to contingent workers for project-based work to allow them to scale up or down should the need arise. While that may feel uncertain for people considering making a move to contracting, rest assured that our clients make well thought out decisions prior to onboarding any contingent worker and funding is secured before contracts are written up. When hiring employees, most clients like to see a road map of 2+ years of work and growth before making an employment offer. With contract roles, that vision only needs to go the end of an approved project or milestone. 

It is hard to believe that we've come so far in the past year. Fast forward to present day and we are back to talent shortages across several skill areas. All in all, the remainder of 2021 appears to be promising for Calgary and the tech sector, as we bounce back from the impact of the slowdowns of this past year.