This is a look at the Canadian IT Job market across Canada from our (Eagle) company’s perspective. We have offices in 10 cities across the country and our three General Managers have tapped into their market knowledge to write this … hope you find it helpful. I will stress that this is not a scientific or statistical look at the market … this is what we see day in day out “in the trenches” of the war for talent across Canada.
The overall job market across the country continues to show positive signs. Although the unemployment rate was barely affected, Statistics Canada reported an increase of 18,000 jobs throughout March, with Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan leading the way in growth. Specific to Canada’s Information Technology sector, each region is showing different signs, some more positive than others, but generally, there are many signs pointing to many new opportunities in the coming months.
The IT job market activity throughout Western Canada varies across the region, with a number of different factors affecting activity levels. Over the last quarter in British Columbia, Vancouver hosted the Olympic Games and, as a result, experienced an increase in job market activity. The end of the games, though, in combination with government year-end, caused a drop in these activity levels, specifically in government, creating some challenges within the market. Most hiring activity is coming from the financial sectors and some crown corporations, with the province’s hottest skills being Storage, SAP, Senior Infrastructure and health-specific roles.
Although still not at the level it was before the recession, Edmonton’s hiring activity has picked up in the last quarter. Top IT contractors are starting to report that they are receiving multiple offers and some slower moving companies have even lost candidates to other opportunities. Additionally, there has been more interest from IT professionals in permanent positions to consider the potential of contract work; this is a marked change from three months ago. Companies are continuing to be rate sensitive, however, which keeps the market in check, although the low supply of Business Analysts is causing marginal increases in their rates. Many of the open positions are functional in nature and Edmonton’s high-demand roles are BAs, PMs, and ERP (SAP and Oracle) specialists.
Calgary’s IT job market remained relatively strong over the last three months, driven primarily by the Oil and Gas sector. Utilities have been particularly slow to return to investing in their IT initiatives, but as this year continues, companies around Calgary are becoming more aggressive with spending and their IT budgets have been opening up. In particular, there appears to be growing interest in infrastructure projects as many were put on hold during the recession, and with new Microsoft Exchange, Office and Windows suites being released, it looks as though this trend will continue.
The impact of this quarter’s activity in Calgary is being felt in a number of ways. Most of the top talent is now back to work, multiple offers are becoming more common and companies who have been doing their own recruiting are now returning to agencies for assistance. Furthermore, while rates have remained stable over the last three months, pressure is beginning to build. Companies are beginning to offer contract extensions for longer periods to lock in rates; contractors, on the other hand, are testing the waters outside of their current roles. Similar to other Western Canadian regions, Calgary’s hot skills in demand this quarter are PMs, BAs, Architects, SAP and Infrastructure specialists, in addition to more interest in ECM (Livelink) and asset management professionals. Buzz on the streets suggest that there could be a lot of SAP projects kicked off later this year and talk of large outsourcing initiatives are commonplace.
In Manitoba, both municipal and provincial governments have decided to cut costs by using short-term contractors to govern any gaps, increasing the province’s contract activity toward the end of this past quarter. Rates, however, have remained level over the last three months due to out-of-town resources who are remaining competitive and not requesting large premiums for the travel. With the increased activity in other regions, though, this won’t be the case for long. Currently, hot skills in Manitoba are Infrastructure Specialists, Developers, and BAs.
The Greater Toronto Area (GTA)’s IT job market is showing many healthy signs of growth through a significant increase in hiring activity. The region’s financial institutions are still demanding large numbers of resources to fill both permanent and contracting roles to help staff the many projects they have on the go. As well, the major systems integrators are engaging in new projects, resulting in more requirements for contract resources. Overall, IT professionals are seeing more opportunities throughout Toronto and being presented with multiple offers; however, short contract durations shrinking to one or two month terms seems to be a current trend.
Hot skills in the region include Business Transformation professionals, as well as ERP specialists, including SAP Functional Consultants, Oracle Financials and PeopleSoft Resources. In addition, permanent opportunities are still on the rise, particularly in banking and retail companies, where needs seem to be focused around PMs, Infrastructure Managers, BAs, and Enterprise Architects.
With an early spring already weeks underway in Eastern Canada, markets continue to be mixed. Aside from the Government fiscal year end flurry, the Ottawa market was steady, if not quiet, while Montreal showed little sign of slowing down. The increased activity in Ottawa during year-end was largely around extending and approving current projects, as opposed to starting any net new initiatives. Now that the federal government’s fiscal year end has come and gone, and new budgets, plans and funding approvals are in place, Ottawa is shifting into a more normal pattern. But what is the new normal in Ottawa?
The Ottawa market is entering a different fiscal environment as the remaining stimulus money filters its way through the system (for the most part far outside of any IM/IT targets) and the Feds wrestle with freezes, cutbacks and rationalization to help deal with significant fiscal deficits in the years ahead. Although there are a number of “rust -out ” systems and applications need to be renewed, a fresh wave of new e-services demanded and cyber security more urgent than ever, the bottom line is that budget demand will far out-strip capacity to fund and government will no doubt have to streamline and become more efficient. There is absolute talk in Ottawa of hiring freezes and reductions, certainly through attrition and other means that may see the reduction in size of 10,000 jobs in Ottawa alone in the next few years. With demographics not being kind to technology lea
dership in the government, specifically in that the bulk of senior managers in IM/IT who are set to soon retire, will that void now be addressed at all? If so, will it now likely be augmented by subcontractors, outsourcing or other non-traditional hiring methods? In other areas, industry continues to collaborate and work with the Feds to streamline and make procurement more effective and efficient, now with the bulk of the IM/IT spend coming through the new TBIPS contract vehicle.
Outside of government in Ottawa, it is a very different story. Technology employment fell again in March to the lowest level we’ve seen in four years as a par Canadian dollar hammered what was left of a once vibrant local high tech industry. Hot skills in Ottawa include Application Architects, Senior BAs and PMs, as well as GIS resources and .NET Developers.
In Montreal, there continues to be very strong demand through the spring months, particularly in the Banking, Financial Services sector, as well as in Telecom. There is an increase in both permanent and contract demand that began in the fall and has sustained itself through the New Year. There is no doubt an industry challenge in finding enough resources, certainly on the contract side, to satisfy demand even with the return of many native Montrealers who had worked in the oil industry of Western Canada in recent months and years. Hot skills in Montreal continue to be mostly on the Infrastructure side with roles like Network Analysts, System Analysts, and Technical Architects, in addition to a demand for Security, SAP and Senior PMs.