CEO Blog

Category Archives: Government

All blog posts by Kevin Dee, Chairman at Eagle — Canada’s premier staffing agency, related to government.

Avoid Unintended Consequences

Drucker quote about decision makingHow many times do we see a negative impact from seemingly harmless or well-intentioned actions?

We see it from governments who implement well-intentioned legislation only to cause negative affects in the “real world”.    As just one small example, attempts to help the “underdog” will often increase costs to business owners, and for small business owners the impact will be felt in lost jobs.

We see it from companies who will have a knee-jerk reaction to a “one off” situation and bring in rules that have negative consequences.  If you implement restrictive policies because of one bad experience then you create a less welcoming environment and that will be felt when trying to compete for talent with companies that are not so restrictive.

We all do it at a personal level.  We do or say things that inadvertently cause ripples.  It might be social niceties such as inviting some people to the party and inadvertently upsetting others, or by complimenting one friend and another takes offense.

If you want to avoid unintended consequences, then you need to think “bigger picture”, and you need to be sensitive to your actions.

Some things you might consider:

  1.  Don’t make knee jerk decisions.  Take the emotion out of your decisions and let some time pass before you “act”.
  2. Get input.  Consider other people’s perspectives.
  3. Think ahead.  Try to anticipate what else you should consider;  who else you should consider and how else your decision might have impact.
  4. Have a plan that includes (a) the objective you want to achieve, (b) a plan to get to that objective and (c) any possible outcomes from your plan.

It is possible that the decision is more important than any repercussions, but in that case the consequences are not unintended … they are just consequences!

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”  Yogi Berra

Obviously we can’t anticipate everything, but TOO often we don’t even try … make an effort, thoughtfulness is always appreciated!

——————————————————————————————————————————
Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————

The Destructive Power of Bad News!

Henry Ford quote .. our belief determines the outcome“Pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy; it reproduces itself by crippling our willingness to act.” Howard Zinn

The recession of 2008 was a clear example of how bad news feeds on itself.  Not a day went by without the “chicken littles” of the world calling for Armageddon!  Amazingly enough the more they talked about it the lower confidence fell and sure enough we had one of the worst recessions on record.

The naysayers did not create the recession … but they sure as heck hurt the speed of recovery.  The economy is built on confidence and killed by fear … we need to listen to the glass half full people!

Fast forward just a few years and here we go again with the doom and gloom merchants crying in their beer!

Well as I see it the oil patch is just one sector … and it too will recover in time.  It will also be more efficient and more able to withstand the tough times.  A weak Canadian currency is bad for some, but good for others.  The unemployment rate in Canada is not awful.  There are still lots of jobs being advertised.  The boomers are starting to retire in droves and we have a different set of issues caused by “skill shortages” and knowledge loss to contend with … it’s not all bad news from a jobs perspective.

“Nothing travels faster than light, with the possible exception of bad news, which follows its own rules.”  Douglas Adams

The people making all these “doom and gloom” predictions will all do just fine … they always do.  Some of them do better when the economy suffers because they profit from the disruption.

Message to Business Owners … ADD JOBS!

It doesn’t matter whether I like our Wynn Liberal Government, our Trudeau Federal Government or Notley’s NDP government … my job as an employer is to find ways to keep my business healthy and to create jobs.  I operate a National business and need to work within the parameters that exist … I’m very focused on what I need to do!  I will make a conscious effort to stop knocking those governments because it is not helping and they need to be aligned with me in fixing things!  If every business owner were to add just a couple of jobs we would be in decent shape … what do we need in order for that to happen?  A few dollars less profit?  Governments that are going to stop adding costs?  Lets do this!

“In the business world bad news is usually good news for somebody else.”  James Surowiecki

Message to Governments … LESS POLITICS MORE COOPERATION

Those governments I mentioned, together with all the other governments here in Canada (at all levels), need to be focused on helping add private sector jobs … because they need a healthy tax base in order to meet their various agendas.  Find ways to help business, not throw up road blocks.  Find ways to create a partnership.  Avoid a single minded focus on your election platform … because right now, we can’t afford your dreams!  Governments need to be very focused on improving TRUST and CONFIDENCE.  We need leadership NOT politics.

Message to Individuals … OWN YOUR SITUATION

If I am an individual caught in this downturn and without a job, I have two options … I can cry “woe is me” and wait for “someone” to fix things; or (b) I can do whatever it takes to get work.  That might mean moving to where the jobs are; it might mean taking different work or a lesser pay; it might mean creating my own job; or it might mean finding the opportunities that ARE there and making sure that I am the one who gets the job.

If you have a job, then do it well … every day when you go to work be very focused on doing the best job that you can.  Protect your job, while helping your company through a tough time.

Message to Doom and Gloom Merchants … SHUT UP!

You really don’t need to fan the flames.  Try to be more balanced in your reporting.  People really do want to hear ideas for positive change … not just the constant whining about what that government did or did not do; or the “opinions” about what MIGHT happen!

To everyone … THE SKY IS NOT FALLING!

If your sources of news are “Doom and Gloom” merchants find other sources.  Ignore the “Chicken Littles” of the world.

Focus on the positives and let’s not talk ourselves into another recession!

MY GLASS is half full!

—————————————————————————————————————————————–
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————

Independent Contractor Myths & Realities in CANADA!

SME data from Statistics CanadaFrom time to time governments will decide that they need to crack down on independent contractors.  Typically the suggestion is that independent contractors are paying less in taxes than they should, or that they are really employees.  During the run up to the recent federal election Justin Trudeau made some references to small business owners avoiding taxes, and hopefully he does some research before he buys into a rhetoric that believes every worker should be an employee of a large entity.

Here are some things you might not have known about independent contractors in the professional space in Canada .  It is very important to remember that Canadian laws are different than US laws., because too often I see “experts” weighing in with advice, based on their US experience.

  1. Taxation … contractors pay the same amount in taxes as everyone else.

An independent contractor in Canada is typically a one person corporation.  Her corporation gets paid for the work done and the contractor either (a) takes a dividend from the corporation as opposed to a salary, or (b) pays themselves a salary.  The dividend route only provide a small tax advantage (by way of deferring taxes) IF she leaves some of the earnings in the company.  If, like 99% of Canadians she spends what she earns then she pays pretty much the same amount of tax as everyone else.  If she doesn’t spend every penny then she might defer tax … but she still pays it!

  1. Expenses … yes the independent contractor gets to write off SOME business expenses.

These are typically minimal, AND if they worked for “big company” then it would be “big company” writing off the expenses.  So, the write offs would have occurred anyway. These are the expenses associated with taking responsibility for a business … marketing, technology, professional services and other necessary business costs.  All of these costs go back into our economy supporting other businesses. and creating jobs.

  1. Risk … independent contractors accept some risks, like any business.

An independent contractor is a business, and as such accepts some risks as it is a lifestyle they choose.  They have no guarantees of long term work they are responsible for finding every gig themselves, in strong or weak economies.  They can be let go at a moment’s notice, with no severance.  If their work is not accepted they don’t get paid.   They need to carry business insurance because they can be sued by their client.  They accept the risk of their and their family’s health, with no big company benefits.  They don’t get paid for time off, vacations, sick days or training time.

  1. Value to the economy … they are a big boon to Canada’s economy.

Having a flexible workforce is HUGE for all companies to some degree.  Special projects, seasonal demands or the ability to pilot new ideas without committing to long term employment contracts are essential for these companies.  Having rare expertise available to many companies, rather than just one employer, is a big advantage to Canada’s economy and the average self-employed individual is very motivated to be productive … their continued contract depends on it.

It is worth noting that some percentage of independent contractors have aspirations for a bigger corporate entity.  They might be developing a product on the side, or they might band together with a few others to create a company.  There are many success stories where one or a few contractors formed a company that became a household name.  Some names that come to mind might include CGI, Calian and Cognos but I’m sure there are many.  Entrepreneurs will often start small and go on to bigger things.

  1. The New Way of Work … this is a growing trend in society today

Whether to become self-employed has always been a personal choice.  It offers the individual more control over their career, the ability to earn a good income without having to move into management when they are more interested in a specialised career.  It allows for freedom to take time off for whatever reason.  These people choose to manage their own retirement plans.  They have to find their own benefits and accept the responsibility of  business ownership.

I guess Ronald Reagan might have been right when he said, “You can’t be for big government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy.”

It would be my wish that all elected officials understand the realities of employment today and understand the value of these small business owners.  These are valuable contributors to Canada’s economy and messing with that is not going to help anyone!  It certainly won’t put more tax dollars into the coffers!

“Every government interference in the economy consists of giving an unearned benefit, extorted by force, to some men at the expense of others. ”  Ayn Rand

————————————————————————————————————————————
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————

Voting Day in Canada

Election 2015Here are 10 reasons why YOU need to get out and vote:

  1. This is a privilege of our democracy that people in other parts of the world would love to have;
  2. This is a privilege of our democracy that our parents and grandparents fought and died to preserve;
  3. This is your chance to influence the government that affects you;
  4. If you are reading this then likely you are intelligent, we NEED intelligent people voting;
  5. If the wrong people are elected they might spend YOUR money unwisely;
  6. The wrong people elected might represent YOU in a way you do not want to be represented;
  7. Voter turnout in Canada is generally low  … don’t let a few voters decide who will govern;
  8. Some people don’t like what the elected government have done, for them it will be important to vote for change;
  9. Some people are concerned that a change will not be in Canada’s best interests and for them it will be important to vote the current administration back;
  10. If you want to set an example for the future generations, then demonstrate that democracy is a good thing by voting.

There are probably 100 good reasons to vote, but hopefully the 10 mentioned make you think.

Understand the issues and don’t get caught up in the rhetoric.

Understand what the parties really offer.

Vote with your head, and be a part of Canada’s democratic process.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
————————————————————————————————————————————

CANADIAN JOB MARKET Review Third Quarter 2015

Canadian Job MarketCANADIAN JOB MARKET Review Third Quarter 2015

General Observations:

This has been a tough year thus far in Canada.  With GDP contracting for each of the first two quarters, Canada suffered a “technical recession”, and many businesses felt it!  The primary reason for the malaise has been the impact on the oil sector caused by a low price per barrel.  Another impact has been the economic meltdown in China, which is a large consumer of Canadian raw materials.

The employment rate at the end of Q3 dipped to 7.1%, from 6.8% in Q2.  This was attributed to more people entering the workforce, but still means a lot of people looking for work.  Canada added about 31,000 jobs in Q3 and has added 161,000 in the 12 months to September.  This is down from the 176,000 jobs over the 12 months to June.

TSXAs another economic indicator the TSX has been fairly volatile.  At the end of Q3 the TSX was at about 13,300 which was down about 1,200 points from the 14,500 reading at the end of Q2.

As already mentioned the price of a barrel of oil has plummeted and is currently sitting around $50 a barrel.  The price has fluctuated significantly having reached lows near $40 a barrel during Q3 but was at $55 at the end of Q2.  There is no relief in sight for the oil companies yet meaning continuing cut backs, reduction in spending and layoffs.

The Canadian dollar has also been suffering and at the end of Q2 a Canadian dollar was worth less than 75c US, compared to 80c at the end of Q2.  This is not ALL bad news, and Canadian manufacturers and exporters are benefiting, however travel is costly as is importing materials.

Piggy Bank accepting moneyThe banking sector continues to be a big user of talent and one of the largest employers in Canada.  The primary demand for talent is in Toronto, but there is also demand in Montreal.  While the competitive nature of the industry requires investment in innovation, technology and responsiveness to regulatory change there is also a need to control costs.  We have seen some fluctuation in demand as certain parts of the financial sector have been reducing staff while others have been hiring.

The telecommunications companies are big employers in Canada and are also very cost conscious.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they are also careful about keeping employment costs under control.  Some of the drivers of demand here include the highly competitive nature of the business, investment in infrastructure, technological innovation and a need to plan for a retiring “Boomer” workforce.

ConstructionA recent US report cites labor shortages in the US construction industry and I have no doubt we will see the same here in Canada. It is an industry that is in demand, and other than the current “hiccups” in the oil sector, which will pass, there will be a constant demand into the future.  From cranes dotting the landscapes of our cities, through infrastructure work on our highways and home improvement projects everywhere the signs of an in-demand industry are plain to see.

The upcoming Federal election has the usual effect of dampening demand for resources, as projects are put on hold to ensure they are still the mandate of the new administration.  Governments everywhere are being very careful with their spending however there is always some demand, whether it is at the Federal, Provincial or Municipal level. They are huge employers, and people with the right skills are generally always in demand. Regulatory change, policy development and general administrative needs dictate the need for a large and skilled workforce that receives competitive incomes and very attractive pensions and benefits. I would expect to see a slowdown in this sector that will depend upon whether there is a change in government, and might last from 3 to 6 months.  The newish Alberta government has not yet ramped up its new projects, but it is expected that work will be generated as they change the focus of the administration.  Having said all of the above, one area of demand is in the transportation space where governments are making investments across the country, thus creating job opportunities.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy (the staffing industry) and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The latest score suggests a continued slowdown in demand for talent in Q3. I would expect an increase in demand for staff augmentation resources in Q4 as we recover from the “technical recession”.
Eagle LogoHere at Eagle we continue to see significant impact on our Western Canada business however other markets remain fairly steady.  Year over year the number of orders received has dropped about 20%, which can largely be attributed to the oil patch. Other markets have been relatively consistent across the country.

More Specifically:

Blue JaysThe GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is by far Canada’s, and Eagle’s, largest market. The sheer size of the population and the fact that it contains the most head offices makes it a large consumer of talent and as such, the best place to be looking for work.  This market accounts for approximately 60% of Eagle’s business which comes from the major industries here, which include the financial, insurance, government and telecommunications sectors.  The retail sector and the construction industry also generate significant demand, in addition to the engineering space.  Despite a technical recession the GTA continues to demand talent.

oil patchIn Western Canada Alberta, and more specifically Calgary as the “oil capital” of Canada, has taken the brunt of the hit from the drop in oil prices.  All of the major oil companies have their Canadian head office in Calgary and cost cutting has resulted in many layoffs.  The “anti-oil” stance of the relatively new NDP government has done nothing to help matters.  If investment in Alberta is not going to be valued then these companies can invest elsewhere.  The “oil sector bust” will pass but it remains to be seen whether investment will remain in Alberta bringing back the jobs that have been lost to date.  Elsewhere the impact has not been as bad, with Vancouver, Regina and Edmonton still in need of talent.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”. The impact of the upcoming Federal election will be felt in Ottawa for a few months, resulting in a slowdown in demand.  Montreal is relatively steady but not booming, with demand coming from the financial sector, the telecommunication companies and the construction industry. The Maritime Provinces typically have higher unemployment rates ranging from 8.8% in Nova Scotia to 13.6% in Newfoundland, and this region remains a tough place to find work.

The Hot Client Demand.

Dream Job SignAt Eagle our focus in on professional staffing and the people in demand from our clients have been fairly consistent for some time. That would include Program Managers, Project Managers and Business Analysts who always seem to be in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Big data, analytics, CRM, web (portal and self-serve) and mobile expertise (especially developers) are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting, side we see a consistent need for financial analysts, accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Expertise in the Capital markets, both technical and functional, tends to be a constant ask in the GTA.  Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that also sees plenty of demand

Summary:

“If all the economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.”

George Bernard Shaw

The third quarter of 2015 has been “more of the same”, with the economy severely affected by the oil sector and corporate concern about the political climate.  An NDP government in Alberta and an upcoming election that has the potential to bring a left leaning Federal government is not going to result in good news to corporate Canada.  There is no timeline on when oil will recover, nor what the recovery will look like, and until the election is done we will not know the impact on business.

While Alberta has suffered most, with recession-like symptoms, the rest of Canada has also endured a technical recession for the first two quarters with the result Canada’s unemployment rate is at 7.1% the worst it has been all year.

Despite all of that, there are still opportunities created because of the demographic pressures (retiring Boomers) and the need for companies to remain competitive.  We see opportunity in the construction industry, the financial sector, the telecommunications sector and the Insurance sector.  We see the markets with the greatest demand as being Toronto, Vancouver and perhaps Montreal.  Other markets that should improve after the election might be Ottawa and Edmonton which should see some increase in government spending as new programs roll out.

While we don’t expect to see labor shortages in the near term (at least until the oil sector recovers) we do see skills shortages particularly in the knowledge economy and the trades.

The unemployment rate at 7.1% could be easily reduced with some positive news on the oil front and some positive moves by the governments (Federal and Provincial) in power.  If that happens we could quickly move back to a full employment situation and start to run up against the different issue of finding enough people!  Of course my crystal ball is about as good as anyone else’s, so we will wait and see how the economy unfolds over the balance of the year and into 2016.

“I always avoid prophesying beforehand because it is much better to prophesy after the event has already taken place. “

Winston Churchill

That was my quarterly look at the Canadian job market and some of its influences.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
————————————————————————————————————————————

CANADIAN JOB MARKET Review Fourth Quarter 2014

General Observations:

newspaper job sectionEach quarter I try to provide the reader with an understanding of the Canadian job market based on a regular set of indicators.  In addition to public market indicators I use Eagle’s experiences serving our clients across Canada.  The hope is that job seekers will gain some insight about where opportunities might be, and hiring managers will gain some value for their hiring aspirations.

Timing of course is everything, and while this is a retroactive look at the 4th quarter of 2014 I am acutely aware that 2015 has started with a bang, due to oil price dropping like a stone, the Canadian dollar dipping and large retail companies either closing shop or laying off (Target, Sony, Mexx, Holt Renfrew etc).

As of Q4 the employment situation in Canada was looking OK.  The unemployment rate had dropped to 6.6%, from 6.8% at the end of Q3, and 2014 had seen Canada add about 186,000 jobs.  Most of that gain had come in the latter six months of the year.

TSXThe TSX, like most of the markets had been fairly steady through 2014 but as the year ended it had a reading around 14,700 which was down from the 15,500 it had reached at the end of Q3. This was still better than its low point in 2014 which was around 13,700 and as I write this piece the index appears to be staying above that low.

Oil canCanada’s oil sector fell off a cliff in Q4 with the price of a barrel dropping from around $85 at the end of Q3 to less than $50.  What is worse for this sector is there is no short term sign of recovery and forecasters are pessimistic that we will ever get back to the $100+ range.  There are winners and losers with cheap oil but we can expect the Alberta economy to take a hit, and the Conference Board is predicting a recession in Alberta.

dollar splitAnother big employer in Canada is the financial sector, centered primarily in Toronto but with a healthy presence in Montreal. There are many reasons why this sector remains busy including its highly competitive nature, evolving technologies, regulatory change and volatile markets.  I expect this sector to remain busy in the short term.

The telecommunications sector is another big employer in Canada.  The demands on their infrastructure, technology advancements, retiring boomers and expansion into new markets are all drivers of their need for people in addition to the ongoing need to compete in a very competitive space.

ConstructionThe construction industry continues to be a great place to find work, both in the trades and in the head offices of the large companies. There are construction sites in most major cities with infrastructure projects, office towers and condo developments. There will be some fallout from the drop in oil price, particularly since the oil sands are en expensive extraction method.  Time will show the extent of the impact, but if oil prices rebound a bit over the coming months the impact should be minimal.  If the price stays below $50 there will be a big impact.  There will always be demand in the home renovation market, if you have ever tried such a job you will know how hard it is to find skilled tradespeople available.

Parliament building in OttawaDespite the need for governments to contain costs we have seen a fairly steady demand in Federal, Provincial and Municipal Governments.  They are huge employers, and people with the right skills are always in demand. The required downsizing is generally achieved through attrition and there is always work to be done. Regulatory change, policy development and general administrative needs dictate the need for a large and skilled workforce that receives competitive incomes and very attractive pensions and benefits. The wild card here will be the effect of lost oil revenue taxes, so this will be a space to watch.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy (the staffing industry) and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The index overall seems to trend down slightly from 2013 but was rebounding slowly through the first three quarters.  Q4 would suggest a slowdown of that recovery and a slip backwards.  Having said that the index is 10% higher than its reading when introduced in 2008 just before the recession.

Here at Eagle we continue to see shortages of “in demand” skillsets, and a steady supply of candidates with skillsets in other areas.  The flow of available talent over the fourth quarter was the same as Q3 and marginally down from Q4 of 2013.  The demand from our clients was down about 10% in the fourth quarter and about the same as Q4 in 2013, suggesting a fairly normal seasonal swing.

More Specifically:

cn towerThe GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is the largest market in Canada with the most head offices and hence a big appetite for professional talent. This market accounts for approximately 60% of Eagle’s business which comes from the major industries here, which include the financial, insurance and telecommunications sectors.  There has been plenty of retail demand although recent events might change that and a fair bit of demand in the engineering space, in addition to a fairly strong construction sector. A large part of the Ontario provincial government is here too, which is another sector that demands talent. This is the city offering the most opportunities in Canada, and where I would want to be looking if I were unemployed.

The Saddledome in CalgaryCalgary is the “hub” for Western Canada as the capital of the oil patch. The city has the second largest number of head offices and the attraction of the low Alberta tax rate (for now).  The current oil price situation has created a ripple in this economy and many oil related companies are cutting back on investment and slowing projects.   Edmonton will also be affected by the oil price as The Alberta Government is dependent on taxes from oil revenues.   Saskatchewan is also generally a fairly hot market for talent but will feel the effect of a lower oil price.  All in all Western Canada is going to be a little slow in hiring, we may seem some downsizing and it maybe some time before it booms again. Having said that, there are always opportunities for people with great skills, and in companies with a large Boomer population approaching retirement.

LighthouseEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal and “the Maritimes”. Montreal continues to be relatively busy, particularly in the financial sector, the telcos and the construction industry. There will be some impact from the oil price felt particularly in Newfoundland.  This region is typically slower for job creation at the best of times, so I expect it to be even slower than normal until we see an uptick in oil prices

AT Eagle our focus in on professional staffing and the people in demand from our clients has been fairly consistent for some time. That would include Program Managers, Project Managers and Business Analysts who always seem to be in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Big data, analytics and mobile expertise are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting, side we see a consistent need for financial analysts, accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that sees plenty of demand

Summary:

magnifying glass over the word jobsThe fourth quarter had been following the predictable path demonstrated through 2014 of steady improvement in the unemployment rate and decent job creation. The huge drop in the price of oil right at the end of the year will have a ripple effect but it was harder to spot during the usual seasonal slowdown.  Our expectation is that demand in Western Canada will be down significantly, creating an opportunity for companies to pick up the usually rare “top performers” should they become available.  Companies will want to improve, but not necessarily increase the size of their teams.  There will be some downsizing, we have already seen reduced investment but I don’t anticipate huge layoffs in the short term.  If the price of oil does not improve soon we might see more drastic measures.

There will be an impact on the retail sector with the already announced layoffs due to Target and Sony exiting Canada plus the financial woes of Mexx and Holt Renfrew.  The dropping Canadian dollar will only hurt those companies that import their stock but it will be a boon to Canadian exporters.

Elsewhere the other big sectors such as Financial, Insurance, Telecommunications and Construction should not be greatly affected by the price of oil. As such I don’t anticipate a big decrease in demand in the GTA, other than a “stutter” caused as companies assess the impact on them.  There will continue to be skills shortages in our knowledge economy, partly fueled by the boomers retiring, but also caused by our education system not turning out the right skill sets and the advancements in technology creating a shortage as the skills catch up.

The unemployment rate at 6.6% is better than it has been for more than 5 years, and if we can avoid driving that up too much because of the oil patch then it will be a good sign for job seekers. It should also be noted that the employment rate for professionals is more like 3.5% or 4%, which is very near to full employment. This means that professionals should be able to find work if they are willing to be flexible in their demands.

That was my quarterly look at the Canadian job market and some of its influences.
—————————————————————————————————————————————–
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Today We Should ALL Remember!

Kevin Dee in his Royal Navy uniformOn November 11, 1918 hostilities ceased, marking the end of “the Great War” … World War I. November 11th was chosen as the day we should all remember those who served, so that our way of life could be maintained.

Today we remember not only those men and women who lost their lives or were injured in two world wars, in Canada Remembrance Day remembers “the men and women who have served, and continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict and peace”.

This year in Canada we are extra sensitive to the sacrifices made by our service men and women. The death of Corporal Cirillo while standing ceremonial guard at the cenotaph in Ottawa, and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent who was killed by a terrorist in a car, were stark reminders that terror can strike at any time.

The day has a special significance for anyone who have served in the forces. I spent seven years in the Royal Navy, but never had to experience the terror of war.  However, most people who have spent some time in the military will have an understanding and sympathy for those who did fight.  It is not soldiers or their Generals and Admirals that start or cause wars … that would be politicians and other leaders of nations.  Remembrance Day is to remember the sacrifices of those who fought, and I like to think that we live in a far better world because of what our fathers and grandfathers did.

Christy Dee Army picture circa 1940My dad fought in the Second World War.  He was a tank gunner who  “joined up” in 1939 at the age of 18 and left the army in 1945 after the war had finished.    My dad wasn’t killed (or I would not be writing this) but he represents a generation whose lives were changed by war.

Only those who have done it can know what it is like to go into battle … can you imagine what it might be like to know you could be killed at any moment?  My dad was in a tin can called a Sherman tank which was severely limited in the armor it carried … and a direct hit, even on its best armor could kill everyone inside with the shock.  When they faced the German Panzers they were out matched in size, armor, range and gun size … imagine a middleweight wrestler taking on a Sumo wrestler!

He was trained for desert warfare, saw action in the Middle East and hot countries like Italy yet he was also sent to the jungles of Burma (today known as Myanmar) and my dad had opinions on that move!  My dad didn’t give a lot of details about the war … he liked to tell the stories of when he and his buddies got into trouble, which apparently was not rare and resulted in a demotion or two!  The following however is an indication of a part of my dad’s war, an excerpt I found about the history of the 7th Queen’s Own Hussars (the tank regiment my dad served in).

In 1942, the Regiment was sent to Burma where it covered the long retreat to India. Fierce fighting along the jungle tracks took a terrible toll, but the Regiment never failed to do all that was asked of it. and fought tooth and nail to save the Army. General Alexander said of the 7th Hussars – “Without them we should never have got the Army out of Burma ; no praise can be too high for them”.

poppyMy dad and I are not the only members of family with a military connection.  My Uncle Davy was a boy sailor on the HMS Exeter in the Second World War.  The Exeter was sunk in the Java Sea in 1942, and he was captured by Japanese forces and held as a prisoner until the war ended in 1945.  We have all seen the movies about conditions in those camps and the stories I was told of his captivity were horrific … can you imagine the affect on that 17 year old boy?

My dad was young when he died, just 56 years old and my Uncle Davy was only 47 years old when he passed away.  I can’t say they died young because of their war experiences but I can say their lives were changed by those experiences, and it would surprise me if their life expectancy were not affected.  They both missed the formative years of their early careers, and certainly my dad did not get the chance to pursue the career he wanted.  They both lost friends during the war, and the psychological scars that brought, and they both saw the absolute terror of battle … which has to change a person.  Uncle Davy suffered terribly in that camp and spent many months recovering in an Australian hospital after the war, again I found a description of conditions at the camp he was held in Macassar.  He was never the same.

These are the reasons why I buy poppies and remember the soldiers, sailors and airmen together with their families who have all sacrificed … and they should never be forgotten.

I will wear my poppy … and I will remember!

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

— Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 – 1918)

________________________________________________________________
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Find Canada’s top hot jobs, updated in real-time!  Visit Eagle’s Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?
________________________________________________________________

10 Reasons to Vote!

Municipal election 2014In a weeks time, voters across Ontario will elect their municipal candidates (Manitoba is later this week, PEI and BC vote in November).  Across Ontario there will be 2,800 council members plus 700 school board trustees elected.

These people have a big impact on all of us … as an example here are the general responsibilities of municipal government:

  • water
  • sewage,
  • waste collection,
  • public transit,
  • land use planning,
  • libraries,
  • emergency services,
  • animal control, and
  • economic development.

So if you have an opinion about any of these services, the transit system, economic development in your area, waste collection or how your municipality is dealing with developers … then you need to vote.  If you don’t like what your mayor and council are doing then vote for change.  If you think your elected representatives are doing a GREAT job you still need to vote, because someone else might not like what they are doing and vote them out!

Here are 10 reasons why YOU need to get out and vote:

  1. This is a privilege of our democracy that people in other parts of the world would love to have;
  2. This is a privilege of our democracy that our parents and grandparents fought and died to preserve;
  3. This is your chance to influence the government that affects you;
  4. If you are reading this then likely you are intelligent, we NEED intelligent people voting;
  5. If the wrong people are elected they might spend YOUR money unwisely;
  6. The wrong people elected might represent YOU and YOUR municipality in a way you do not want to be represented;
  7. Voter turnout in Canada is low, Municipal elections are the lowest (in a 2004 Calgary election voter turnout was 18%!) … don’t let a few voters decide the fate of your municipality;
  8. If you have been embarrassed by your elected officials, vote for change;
  9. If you think your elected officials could do a better job, send a message with your vote;
  10. If you want to set an example for the future generations, then demonstrate that democracy is a good thing by voting.

There are probably 100 good reasons to vote, but hopefully the 10 I mention make you think.

Understand the issues in your municipality.

Understand what the candidates offer.

Vote with your head, and be a part of Canada’s democratic process.

________________________________________________________________
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Find Canada’s top hot jobs, updated in real-time!  Visit Eagle’s Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?
________________________________________________________________

Canadian Job Market Review for Third Quarter 2014

Newspaper jobs sectionGeneral Observations:

At the end of the third quarter in 2014 it would be hard to suggest that this has been a banner year for Canada’s economy. There have been plenty of bumps along the way although we have thus far been lucky to avoid natural disasters such as the Alberta floods last year.

When writing this market review, I use a number of “indicators” and try to factor in Eagle’s own experiences, as one of Canada’s larger professional staffing companies. The intent is to give the reader a view “from the trenches” to support the bigger picture view from the statisticians. This may be used by job seekers to understand at a high level where the opportunities might be, and for potential employers wondering if they will be facing skills shortages.

The employment situation did improve this quarter over last, with the unemployment rate dropping to 6.8%, from 7.1% at the end of Q2. In the last 12 months Canada has added 150,000 jobs which is 78,000 more than could have been said at the end of Q2 (for the previous 12 months).

TSX One of the indicators that I use to gauge the state of the Canadian economy, and hence job market, is the TSX. All of the markets have been volatile for some time, with a general trend upwards. At the end of Q3, the TSX was at a high of 15,500 which was up 500 points since the end of Q2, when it was already high. Since then, however, we have seen the markets retract somewhat. As an indicator, it would suggest that companies listed on the TSX are generally healthy, which would suggest that they are hiring.

oil rigsCanada’s oil sector continues to face numerous problems. There is currently a surfeit of oil which has driven the price of a barrel down from the end of Q2 price of $108 to $85 a barrel at the end of Q3. Canada is keen to expand its market beyond the US; however, attempts to build pipelines are currently facing serious challenges both in the US and here in Canada, primarily on environmental grounds. Despite all of that, the oil patch enjoys low unemployment, good benefits and continues to be one of the better places to be looking for work.

Lots of paper moneyPerhaps a close second to the oil patch for employment opportunity is Canada’s financial sector, centered primarily in Toronto but with a healthy presence in Montreal. The highly competitive industry employs a huge number of people and seems to have an almost insatiable appetite for talent. Regulatory change, innovations in banking, technological advances and the need to address the retiring boomers are all reasons why the banks continue to hire.

Mobile antena. Communication conceptThe telecommunications sector is another very large sector that is always looking for talent. This is another very competitive environment, with a need to innovate and attract customers. The demands on their infrastructure, technology advancements, retiring boomers and expansion into new markets are all drivers of their need for people.

ConstructionThe construction industry is a great place to find work, both in the trades and in the head offices of the large companies. There are construction sites in most major cities with infrastructure projects, office towers and condo developments. There are also continued development in places like Fort MacMurray and the oil sands. To top the demand off, if you have ever tried to renovation project, small to medium sized repairs of just home alterations you will know how hard it is to find skilled tradespeople available.

Federal, Provincial and Municipal Governments continue to struggle with cost containment; however, they are huge employers, and people with the right skills are always in demand. The downsizing is most often achieved through attrition and there is always work to be done. Regulatory change, policy development and general administrative needs dictate the need for a large and skilled workforce that receives competitive incomes and very attractive pensions and benefits.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The index continues to show an economy that has tepid growth and the latest reading of 112 is down slightly from the same period last year (113) but up from Q2 reading of 108. Here at Eagle we saw a drop of 5% in candidates applying for jobs, and an equivalent drop in demand from our clients. This can be attributed to a seasonal trend accounting for the summer holiday period. We do still see shortages of “in demand” skillsets, and a steady supply of candidates with skillsets in other areas.

More Specifically:

cn towerDemand in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is always fairly high, although we experience slightly less demand during the summer months. With the largest metropolitan area, the most head offices and the financial center for Canada, the GTA generates 60% of the talent demand here at Eagle. This is the city offering the best opportunities, and the hottest sectors would be the telecommunications sector, the financial sector, the insurance industry, the retail sector and the municipal and provincial governments. We don’t service the construction industry, but it too is a hot sector in the GTA (let’s not discuss the amount of road closures!).

The Saddledome in CalgaryCalgary is the “hub” for Western Canada as the capital of the oil patch. The city has the second largest number of head offices and, when coupled with the attractive tax situation in Alberta and the low unemployment rate in the province (4.4%), it is a popular destination for companies to set up in business, and hence to find employment. Saskatchewan enjoys the lowest unemployment rate of the Canadian provinces at 3.5% so it too is a great place to be looking for work.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal and “the Maritimes”. Montreal continues to be fairly busy, particularly in the financial sector, the telcos and the construction industry. There is also some demand in St John’s, NFLD (population about 200,000), and in Halifax (approx. 400,000) but they are not big markets and the unemployment rate in the Eastern provinces is amongst the highest in Canada. The Federal Government in Ottawa continues to move ahead on some of its large initiatives, creating some demand, and this market is looking healthier for professionals than in some time.

The types of people that seem to be in constant demand from our clients have been fairly consistent. We see a consistent demand for Program Managers and Project Managers while Business Analysts are also always in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Big data, analytics and mobile expertise are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting, side we see a consistent need for financial analysts, accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that sees plenty of demand

Summary:

So far 2014 has been very similar to 2013, with the unemployment rate slowly edging down in a two steps forward, one step backward kind of way. The stock market has done quite well, but the economy has not followed, suggesting that there is still a lack of confidence which otherwise would have fuelled a boom. Government cost cutting, uncertainty in the oil patch and a general global malaise seem to restrain us here in Canada. The US economy has recovered faster this year and typically that has a positive effect on Canada’s economy so perhaps we will see a strong fourth quarter. The retirement “bubble” of baby boomers should start to be felt over the coming year, so that will create employment opportunities and advancement opportunities for job seekers.

We expect to see more skills shortages in our knowledge economy, partly fuelled by the boomers retiring, but also caused by our education system not turning out the right skill sets and the advancements in technology creating a shortage as the skills catch up.

The unemployment rate around 6.8%, (7.1% in Ontario) is better than it has been for more than 5 years, and if we can keep at the level or better, it will be a good sign for job seekers. However the employment rate for professionals is more like more 3.5% or 4%, which is very near to full employment. This means that professionals should be able to find work if they are willing to be flexible in their demands.

For those people willing to go where the work is, we see continued opportunity in the oil patch, with obvious demand in Fort McMurray and all areas related to the oil sands. The cities with higher talent demand include the GTA, Calgary, Regina, Montreal, Edmonton and to a lesser degree Winnipeg, Vancouver and Saskatoon. The industry sectors that have the most demand have not changed and include banking, insurance, construction, telecommunications and the sectors that serve those industries.

That was my quarterly look at the Canadian job market and some of its influences.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?
—————————————————————————————————————————————–

10 Reasons Clients Use Staffing Companies

CEO of Pepsico on the value of talentThe staffing industry continues to grow and provide value to clients across every level of government and every type of industry. Our services are used for many and varied reasons, so here are just ten reasons why we exist.

“Thirty-six percent of global employers are having difficulty filling jobs. This percentage has increased for the second consecutive year and is at its highest level since 2007.” Manpower 2014 Global Talent Shortage Survey

  1. Broad reach. The staffing industry spend their days looking for talent, talking to talent, receiving resumes from talent and building databases that track that talent. Our clients take advantage of that reach which most would have difficulty achieving themselves.
  2. Focused. We find great people, quickly and economically. That is our core competence… our clients are focused on their core competence. I don’t try to build pipelines, provide telecommunication services or manage people’s money. Our clients get professionals to help them with their staffing needs.
  3. Fast. Our clients need talent now, and that is exactly what we do.
  4. Cost effective. Some people have trouble with this, but paying a staffing company is an extremely cost effective way to recruit. Your people stay focused on what your company does. A fast hire means faster productivity. The cost of the client’s time and the improved productivity of their teams makes it a no brainer from a cost perspective.
  5. Strengthen teams. I blogged about this recently, but our clients use our services to proactively improve the quality of their teams. They replace poor performers with top talent… a huge win.
  6. Fill a gap. One of the most obvious uses of staffing services. A maternity leave replacement, a project that needs to be done, a short term increase in demand… all serviced by your staffing provider.
  7. Flexibility. Clients want to test run projects, have flexibility in their staffing levels, meet short term demands. There are any number of reasons why a well run company wants to have this kind of flexibility.
  8. Market knowledge. Staffing companies know what people are making in the market, know who else is looking for those people, understands what their client needs to do… and brings that knowledge and expertise to the table.
  9. Anonymity. Clients sometimes need to strengthen their teams through “head hunting”. They don’t want their name associated with the calls going out into the marketplace, so they use staffing companies and search companies.
  10. Easy. Like any services industry, we need to make life easier for our clients. They give us their hiring problems and we make them go away. Easy.

“More than 50 percent of global employers reporting talent shortages say the shortages significantly impact their ability to meet client needs. Forty percent of employers say shortages reduce their competitiveness / productivity.” Manpower 2014 Global Talent Shortage Survey

As “middle men” recruiters have been written off with the dawn of the internet and with the availability of apps on mobile devices. Some people don’t appreciate the depth of value our industry brings, despite the obvious impacts of skills and labor shortages, globalization, technological innovation and increased competition.

One final quote for the sceptics, from another staffing guy, Greg Savage, who says “Technology will never replace recruiters. Ever. Talent is not an online commodity.” I agree!