CEO Blog

Category Archives: IT Staffing Industry

All blog posts by Kevin Dee, Chairman at Eagle — Canada’s premier staffing agency, related to the information technology (IT) staffing industry.

Canada’s Job Market @ Year End 2016

Canadian Job MarketGeneral Observations: 

From a jobs perspective 2016 finished much as it started, most markets were okay but not great and the oil and gas space was “hurting”.  The oil patch has been hurt not only by the low price of a barrel, but also by the political uncertainty introduced by both provincial and Federal governments that crushes any investment possibilities from private enterprises.  There has been some positive momentum associated with the upcoming Trump presidency, so we shall see how that plays out in the coming months and years.  The Canadian dollar continues to hover around the 75c US mark which makes it more expensive for imports, and Canada imports more than it exports.

The unemployment rate at the end of the year was 6.9%, a slight improvement over the 7% at the end of September, and even better than the 7.1% of this time last year.  During the previous 12 months Canada added 214,000 jobs although the majority of these were part time jobs.

TSXThe stock market continues to be relatively volatile, but perhaps that is the new norm.  For the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX and it has enjoyed a reasonable period of growth over the last year, ending 2016 at around 15,300 points which was currently at around 15,000 points which was more than 200 points better than it ended last year.

picture of an oil rigAs already mentioned the oil patch continues to take a pounding and we don’t anticipate much positive change before 2018.  With oil settling at around $50 a barrel we are not likely to see the start of any major projects although there is some optimism that most of the “bleeding” is done.  Alberta will not attract much private sector investment in the current political climate, particularly when almost any other jurisdiction outside of Canada is more business friendly.

Canadian dollar the LoonieThe Canadian dollar finished 2016 at around 75c US, as opposed to the 70C US it was a year ago.  A weaker dollar is good for the oil patch because they sell in US dollars and most costs are in Canadian dollars.  It is also helpful to our manufacturing sector, because finished goods exported with a weak dollar mean a better profit margin.  However importing raw materials becomes more expensive and generally Canada imports more than it exports so overall a weak Canadian dollar is not good for Canada.

The banking sector is one of the bigger employers in Canada, and the Canadian banks have fared well this year with their stock prices riding high.  They are also prudent money managers and have been very careful with their hiring.  They take full advantage of technology which can mean a reduction is client facing staff as e-banking continues to grow and  even their technology projects have seen very careful hiring this year,

The telecommunications companies are other big employers in Canada and are also very cost conscious.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they too, are also careful about keeping employment costs under control, particularly as they are also acquisitive, which can mean a big focus on integration of acquired companies.  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.

The US economy continues to add jobs, but at a reduced rate of about 150,000 per month.  The demand for skills in the US will lure talent from Canada which is good for the individuals but not so good for Canada in the long term.  What has not happened, and is different from previous economic times, is that Canada’s economy has not improved along with US economy, which is one of the indicators of our “new normal” environment.

ConstructionThe construction industry seems to be forever busy, to which anyone trying to get work done will attest.  Despite the slowdown in the big jobs like the oil sands, there appears to be a constant demand caused by infrastructure upgrades in many of our cities and we have the promise of more such work funded by our growing national debt (was that my out loud voice?).

Parliament building in OttawaThe three levels of government in Canada are big employers.  Municipal, provincial and Federal governments employ a lot of people and with the current Federal government it was expected their ranks would grow.  There has been some growth in the Federal payroll, about 40,000 in 2016 but it was expected to be more.  All of these governments are dealing with the issue of a fast retiring upper echelon.  The pensions are so lucrative that large numbers of civil servants are eligible for, and invariably take, retirement at a very early age.  This will create opportunity for new jobs, but will also result in a significant brain drain from our government.

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 reading at the end of 2016 was 96, as opposed to 98 a year earlier.  While that appears to be a drop, it is in effect negligible because there were less work days in December 2016 than a year earlier.

Eagle LogoHere at Eagle we experienced a 10% drop in demand from our clients in 2016 as opposed to 2015.  We also experienced a 4% increase in people looking for work.  This really tells the tale of the Canadian economy in 2016, there are less jobs and more people looking.   Eagle’s world is primarily in the technology space, and while we expect things to pick up in 2017 we expect to see skills shortages start to add to Canada’s economic problems.

 More Specifically:

cn tower The GTA is Eagle’s busiest region, representing about 60% of our business.  Not surprising given its boast as the 4th largest city in North America, containing more than 50% of Canadian head offices and with a population of approximately six (6) million.  This market has remained one of the busier markets in Canada, yet has not been as buoyant as previous years, with banks, telcos and provincial government all just a little slower with their hiring.   We anticipate things to pick up in 2017 and demand for skilled resources to increase substantially.

Eagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”.  While there is a better mood amongst the Federal civil service under the Trudeau government, I can’t say that I share their optimism given his focus on anything but job creation.  We do expect a decent level of demand in the Federal government in 2017, with necessary projects requiring expertise and the steady flow (certainly more than a drip) of talent retiring.  Quebec is enjoying its lowest unemployment rate in some time, and Montreal remains the hub of that activity.  We anticipate that to continue in 2017.  The Maritime Provinces continue to struggle to create employment and we don’t expect much change there.

The Saddledome in CalgaryWestern Canada is of course comprised of the oil patch in Alberta and the rest.  Some provinces have fared better than others, with certainly Alberta taking the brunt of the hit because of its resource based employment.  BC was actually the fastest growing province in Canada in 2016, and Saskatchewan has fared better than other provinces with a business friendly government.  The outlook for Alberta in 2017 is better, but not exciting.  The other provinces should see a reasonable increase in jobs.

The Hot Client Demand.

At Eagle our focus in on professional staffing and the people in demand from our clients have been fairly consistent for some time.  Program Managers, Project Managers and Business Analysts 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.  This demand fluctuates based on geography and industry sectors, so we advise candidates to watch our website and apply for the roles for which they are best suited.

 Summary:

The last year was a tough one in the Canadian economy and we will continue to face challenges into 2017, with carbon taxes, a struggling oil patch, a resurgent but protectionist US economy under Donald Trump and a Federal government more interested in the environment, foreign aid, being recognised on the world stage and anything other than creating a business friendly atmosphere in Canada.

On the plus side for job seekers, there will be growth opportunities afforded by a growing number of retirees requiring replacement, and some sectors that will grow … some which we believe will be the telecommunications, technology, construction, government and the financial sector.

That was my look at the Canadian job market for the final quarter in 2016 and some of its influences.

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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?
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September Tech News

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for September 2016.

What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of September in previous years …
Five years ago in September 2011 Broadcom paid $3.7 Billion for NetLogic.  Google was busy, buying restaurant reviewer Google signZagat plus acquiring 1,000 patents from IBM.  Ottawa’s Zarlink was bought by Microsemi for $525 million.  SAP bought Crossgate, Twitter bought Julpan and CSC bought Indian software testing company AppLabs, and Hitachi Data Systems continued the consolidation in the storage industry with the acquisition of BlueArc.  September 2012 was a quiet month in M&A deals.  Infosys increased its management consultancy capability with the $330 million purchase of Lodestone.  Lenovo bought Stoneware, a software company focused on the cloud, and Ericsson bought ConceptWave.  A couple of interesting investment moves saw Microsoft invest in Klout and Silicon Valley VC Chameth Palihapitiya invest in Xtreme Labs. Three years ago in September 2013 Blackberry announced a quarterly loss of almost $1 million and laid off 4,500 people. Microsoft bought Nokia’s devices and services unit for more than $7 billion. Ebay paid $800 million for payment platform Braintree; Synnex bought IBM’s customer care division for $505 million; Rogers added to its data centre capacity with the $161 million purchase of Pivot Data Centres; Extreme Networks bought Entersys Networks for $180 million; and Manitoba Telephone Microsoft logoSystems bought Epic Information Systems.  September 2014 saw some big deals announced, including Microsoft’s $2.5 billion purchase of gaming company Minecraft, Lenovo’s $2.1 billion purchase of IBM’s x86 server business and Cognizant’s $2.7 billion purchase of healthcare company, Trizetto Corp.  Hootsuite had an injection of cash and bought two companies, social telephony company Zeetl and social media marketing platform Brightkit.  Google also made two acquisitions, biotech company Lift Labs and desktop polling company Polar. There were plenty more deals announced, including Yahoo’s $8 million purchase of cloud based document hosting company Bookpad; Cisco’s purchase of private cloud company Metacloud; SAP’s purchase of expense software company Concur; Blackberry’s purchase of virtual identity software startup Movirtu and Red Hat’s purchase of mobile app company FeedHenry.  Last year in September 2015 there was a fair bit of M&A activity but no blockbuster deals.  Microsoft was very active, closing three deals, IBM logoAdxstudio which provides web based solutions for Dynamics CRM; app developer Double Labs; and cloud security firm Adallom.  Accenture picked up the cloud services company Cloud Sherpas; IBM added cloud software startup StrongLoop; Netsuite paid $200 million for cloud based marketing company Bronto Software; and Blackberry paid $425 million for competitor Good Technology.  Hardware company Konica Minolta bought IT Weapons; Qualcomm bought medical device and data management company Capsule Technologie; Networking and storage company Barracuda Networks bought online backup and disaster recovery company Intronis; and Compugen bought some of the assets of another Canadian company Metafore.

Which brings us back to the present …

HP new log 2016September 2016 was a slow month for M&A but there were a couple of large deals.  Tech Data paid $2.6 Billion for the technology solutions group of Avnet, and HP made the biggest printer acquisition to date, paying $1.05 Billion for Samsung’s printer business.  Other deals saw Google pay $625 million for Apogee, and restaurant company Subway bought online order taking software company Avanti Commerce.  One investment that caught my eye, in the staffing world saw Accenture invest in crowdtesting company Applause.

Economic news was generally positive around the world with a few exceptions, Brazil being the most obvious having had 17 straight months of job losses.  The US was, surprisingly to me, fairly positive in most indicators despite the upcoming election and their “interesting” potential presidents.  The Canadian outlook seemed generally positive, of course these reports were prior to announcements of carbon taxes.  The economy certainly doesn’t “feel” positive.

Yahoo logoYahoo had some more bad press, this time for a security breach that happened two years ago affecting 500 million accounts and Blackberry announced that it was getting out of the hardware business.

A couple of studies looking at emerging technologies saw increasing investment in big data analytics and IoT in the manufacturing sector and a suggestion that robots might only replace 6% of jobs in the future.  (I wonder if a robot could become President? Or Prime Minister? OR Premiere?  Pretty sure right now I might vote for them!))

That’s what caught my eye over the last month, the full edition will be available soon on the Eagle website.  Hope this was useful and I’ll be back with the October 2016 tech news in just about a month’s time.

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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?
——————————————————————————————————————————

February 2016 Tech News

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the tech industry for February 2016. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of previous year’s Februarys …

Five years ago in February 2011 IT was a quiet month for M&A with HP buying Vertica; Opentext bought Metastorm ($182 million); and Rackspace acquired Anso Labs.  World news was dominated by the popular uprisings in a growing number of countries and the reactions of those governments including the brutality of Gaddafi’s Libyan supporters.  February 2012 was not a blockbuster month for M&A, but there was some interesting
Oracle logo a large software company originally noted for its databaseactivity.  The biggest deal of the month saw Oracle pay $1.9 billion for talent management company Taleo.  Siemens Canada paid $440 million for networking equipment company Rugged.com.  IBM bought BYOD company Worklight; Dell bought backup and recovery company AppAssure; Apple bought mobile search company Chomp; and LM Ericsson bought Ottawa based BelAir Networks.   Three years ago in February 2013 Dell went private in a $24.4 billion deal, that included a $2 billion investment by Microsoft.  Oracle paid $1.7 billion for networking company Acme Packet Inc.; Rackspace bought big data company ObjectRocket; Telus was busy with two acquisitions, electronic medical records division of the Canadian Medical Association and digital forensics company Digital
HP logoWyzdom; HP also sold the Palm operating system to LG for their smart TVs.  February 2014 was busy in M&A. Facebook make a big move with the $16 billion acquisition of Whatsapp.  Comcast made a $45 billion play for Time Warner Cable and regulatory approval or otherwise is imminent; Oracle paid a reputed $400 million for data management platform company Bluekai; LinkedIn paid $120 million for online job search company Bright; and Klout was bought for about $100 million by Lithium Technologies.  Google made a couple of acquisitions, online fraud company Spider.io and secure logon company Slicklogin.  IBM bought database as a service company Cloudant; and Monster bought a couple of companies, social profile company Talentbin and job aggregation and distribution technology company Gozaic. Finally, Microsoft announced Steve Balmer’s
Microsoft logoretirement and appointed a new CEO, Satya Nadella. Last year in February 2015 saw some interesting activity.  The $6.3 billion merger of Staples and Office Depot and the $1.6 Billion purchase of Orbitz by Expedia are two examples of sectors experiencing massive consolidation.  There was a big buy in the communications and IT space with Harris paying $4,75 billion for Excelis to establish a 23,000 person company.  There was a big data center play with UK based Telecity Group paying $2.2 billion for Interxion Holdings.  Microsoft made a couple of acquisitions, paying $200 million for pen-tech maker N-Trig and $100 million for mobile calendar company Sunrise.  Samsung bought a mobile payment company (competing with Apple pay), LoopPay.  Also out buying was Twitter which picked up Niche, a network of social media creators.  There were a number of interesting deals in Asia, including Sapdeal buying luxury fashion estore Exclusively; Foodpanda made six acquisitions of online meal delivery services to establish itself as a powerhouse in that space.  Showing some forethought Australian job board OneShift has bought Adage, which is a job board serving people over 45.

Which brings us back to the present …

Cisco logoFebruary 2016 saw some action in the M&A world.  The biggest deal saw HNA Group of China pay $6 billion for Ingram Micro.  Two other billion dollar deals included Cisco paying $1.4 billion for IoT company, Jasper Technologies and a consortium of Chinese internet firms making a $1.2 billion bid for Opera. Microsoft was busy with a couple of acquisitions, Xamarin a cross platform mobile application development company, and Swiftkey which produces predictive keyboard technology.  Another busy company was Alibaba Group which was investing in a bunch of companies, including a $100 million investment in Groupon, and smaller investments in microblogging site Weibo; software company Momo; augmented reality startup Magic Leap; Chinese retail chain Suning; and Singapore telco SingPost.  Other companies of note out buying included IBM who bought digital agency Aperto and Blackberry acquired cybersecurity company Encription.

The apple logo and apple with a bite out of itIn other news Apple is in a battle with the US government about privacy concerns after being ordered to develop a back door into its operating system.  It was also interesting to see the projected growth in the mobile space with 5.5 billion users expected by 2020.

There wasn’t much good news on the economic front as both Canada and the US had a bit of a slow month.  Canada lost about 5,700 jobs and the unemployment rate jumped a little to 7.2%.  Various US indicators were down but everything is relative and general consensus is that things overall are still positive for the US economy.

That is it for my monthly look at what was happening in the technology space over the last month, compared to the same month in previous years.  I’ll be back in about a month’s time, until then … walk fast and smile!

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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 2015

Canadian Job MarketGeneral Observations:

2015 was a tough year 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 was the impact on the oil sector caused by a low price per barrel.  Other impacts through the year have been the economic meltdown in China, which is a large consumer of Canadian raw materials, and of late the low Canadian dollar although that does help our beleaguered oil sector.

The unemployment rate at year end was 7.1%, which was 0.4% worse than 12months ago.  Over the course of 2015 Canada added about 158,000 jobs with about 18,010,000 employed.

TSXThe stock market was extremely volatile in 2015 experiencing a steady decline since about April.  One indicator that I follow for this report is the TSX which was at a high of about 15,500 in April and ended the year at around 13,000 but has actually declined another 1,000 since then.

As already mentioned the price of a barrel of oil has been a big factor in our tough economy and it does not look like it is getting better in the short term.  From its highs of well over $100 a barrel we are currently seeing sub $30 prices.  The impact in the oil patch has been layoffs, and more are expected with rates at this level.

Canadian dollar the LoonieTo be expected with our economy struggling, the Canadian dollar has also been suffered.  The 2015 high saw the Canadian dollar fetch about 83c US, and by the end of the year we were around 70c US.  Since then we have dipped below 70c!  The good news is that this helps the oil patch because they sell in US dollars and most costs are in Canadian dollars.  It is also helpful to our manufacturing sector, however that sector has been severely depleted over the years when the dollar was stronger so I don’t expect that much impact for Canada.  Given that our exporters have also been hit by the slowdown in China another expected area of benefit is reduced.

The 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 banks have taken advantage of the economy to restructure and become more efficient, which is prudent business practice but again tough for the economy right now.
cell towerThe 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.  The recent purchase of Wind by Shaw might increase competition and potentially open up opportunities should all of the regulatory approvals go through.

The US economy has been adding more than 200,000 jobs a month and in 2015 added 2.65 million jobs.  This, in spite of the impact of a low oil price in their oil sector, has resulted in some skill shortages in certain areas.  This may result in more Canadian skilled workers being lost from the Canadian economy but is an opportunity for individuals needing to find jobs.

ConstructionThe construction industry in Canada appears to remain healthy and despite the slowdown in the big jobs like the oil sands, there appears to be a constant demand caused by infrastructure upgrades in many of our cities.  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 Federal election saw a change in government which will have an impact on Canada’s economy.  In the short term, tax increases and rhetoric from a left leaning government has caused some loss in confidence and willingness to invest.  In the longer term I expect that as the government begins to implement its agenda it will create opportunities in various sectors such as Health, environment and education.

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 labor in 2015, ending the year down slightly over 2014.  This indicator is an aggregate of hours for all classes of labor and so it is my expectation that the impact has been greater on unskilled labor and that skilled talent has a much lower unemployment rate.

Eagle logoHere at Eagle the big impact on our business has been the impact on the oil patch.    Year over year the number of people applying for jobs has been relatively consistent, but there was a decline of 22.5% in demand from our clients in 2015, almost exclusively attributed to the Calgary market

More Specifically:

cn towerThe GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is the hottest job market in Canada and generates about 60% of Eagle’s business.  While it remains a busy market we have seen some impact from downsizing in large companies that has increased the availability of senior people in the market.  Having said all that, if I were looking for work this is where I would like to be.  The sectors that are always looking for people include the financial, insurance, government and telecommunications sectors in addition to the retail sector and the construction industry.  There is also a fair amount of demand in the engineering and manufacturing space.

oil rigsAs already mentioned several times, in Western Canada it is Alberta, and more specifically Calgary as the “oil capital” of Canada, that has taken the brunt of the hit from the drop in oil prices.  All of the major oil companies are headquartered in Calgary and cost cutting has resulted in many layoffs, with many more projected in the first half of 2016.  These layoffs affect not just the oil companies but also the industries that serve them such as technology, services, engineering and transportation companies.  The uncertainty facing the oil patch from the relatively new NDP government has reduced confidence and future investment is also at risk.  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 but nervous about the longer term impact of the loss of oil revenues.  This could affect everyone as provincial tax coffers suffer and the ancillary businesses are hit.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”. With a new federal government in place some projects that had been stalled have begun to move again, and there is optimism that a new agenda will lead to more business in the National Capital Region specifically.  Montreal is relatively unchanged, not booming but a steady demand for resources particularly in the financial and telecommunications sectors.  The Maritime Provinces have traditionally had higher rates of unemployment and this is not changing much so work is tough to find.

The Hot Client Demand.
At 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  This demand fluctuates based on geography and industry sectors, so we advise candidates to watch our website and apply for the roles for which they are best suited.

Summary:

Canada has been weathering somewhat of a storm, and if the oil industry picks up through 2016 then we should be in reasonable shape.  We are adding jobs, and the bigger impact of the downturn have been very regionalised, which has been bad news for Alberta but certainly some people are finding jobs in other geographies and sectors.  Relatively new governments in Alberta and at the Federal level could mean new policies that will create opportunities.  One question will be how much business confidence is affected by the new agendas of these governments.

While Alberta has suffered most, with recession-like symptoms, the rest of Canada endured a technical recession for the first half of the year but the second half saw some growth, and 2016 is expected to be better.  Canada’s unemployment rate is at 7.1% which is not great, but the unemployment rate for skilled workers will be far lower.  Even in these uncertain times we see shortages in niche skill areas.

There are definitely 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.  Ottawa is showing promise and could pick up if new projects are initiated by the new government.  Edmonton is anxious because a large part of its business is tied to the provincial government and tax revenues are down significantly due to the oil crisis.  The Conference Board however is suggesting that even Alberta will see GDP growth in 2016, with all provinces experiencing some modest growth.

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.

That was my look at the Canadian job market for 2015 and some of its influences, with a view to how it might affect employment in 2016.

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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?
————————————————————————————————————————————

Tech News for December 2015

industry-news-december-2015This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the tech industry for December 2015. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of previous year’s Decembers …

dell logoSometimes we think IT news in December can be slow, but the last 5 years might belie that theory!  Five years ago in December 2010 there was plenty of action.  Dell made two storage acquisitions, Compellent Technologies ($820 million) and Insite one.  Siemens and Atos Origin formed a new European IT outsourcing company in a deal worth more than $1 billion.  J2 global Communications bought (Ottawa based) Protus IP Solutions ($213 million); Juniper Networks bought Altor networks for $95 million; Salesforce.com bought a software development platform Ruby from Heroku for $212 million; Earthlink paid $370 million for One Communications; BMC Software bought GridApp Systems; and L&T infotech established a significant Canadian presence through the acquisition of Citigroup’s IT outsourcing arm.  In December 2011 Ottawa’s March Networks was snapped SAPup by Infinova Canada for $90 million, and Toronto based Rypple was acquired by Salesforce.com!  the BIG deal was SAP’s $3.4 billion purchase of SuccessFactors, who had also announced they were buying Jobs2Web for $110 milion.  It was IBM that was the most active acquirer of the month, paying $440 million for DemandTec, also picking up Emptoris in the procurement world and Irish company Curam Software in the government sector.  Three years ago in December 2012 there was a fair amount of M&A activity with Oracle making two acquisitions, marketing automation company Eloqua ($871 million) and Dataraker which provides analytics for utilities companies.  The big deal of the month saw Sprint pay $2.2 Billion to take full control of cellular competitor Clearwire.   Montreal based Cogeco paid $635 million for Peer 1 Networks and NCR paid $635 million for retail software and services company Retalix.  In the BYOD space Citrix bought mobile device management company Zenprise for $355 million.  Finally, Redknee added 1200 employees and 130 new clients through the purchase of Nokia Siemens Business Support Network.  Oracle logo a large software company originally noted for its databaseDecember 2013 was a slow month, however Oracle pulled off a $1.5 Billion buy of marketing software company Responsys; Akamai paid $370 million for cloud-based security solutions provider Prolexic; JDS Uniphase paid $200 million for enterprise performance management company Network Instruments;  IBM bought a “big data” file compression company Aspera and Hitachi expended its solutions capability with the purchase of Calgary based Ideaca.  In other company news Target, although not an IT company, had a major security breach involving details of 40 million debit and credit
cards.  Last year, December 2014 was not such a slow news month, with the political and Microsoft logotechnical ramifications of “the Sony hack” causing uproar and some big names making acquisitions, albeit not huge deals.  Microsoft made two acquisitions, the $200 million purchase of mobile email app startup Acompli and mobile development company HockeyApp (which has nothing to do with hockey).  SAP bought travel and expense management company Concur; Intel bought a Montreal based identity management company PasswordBox; Oracle bought digital marketing company Datalogix; Teradata bought data archiving company Rainstor; and MongoDB bought high-scale storage engine company WiredTiger.

Which brings us back to the present …


Shaw logoDecember 2015
was not a particularly busy M&A month but there was some interesting activity.  The big deal saw Canadian telco Shaw make a big play into the cellular space with its proposed acquisition of Wind for $1.6 billion.  Meanwhile Rogers was also out shopping and growing its Maritimes presence through the acquisition of Internetworking Atlantic Inc.  Other deals in December were not large but did feature some of the big players.  Oracle bought Stackhouse a cloud company with a specialization in “containers”; IBM boosted its video in the cloud capabilities with the purchase of Clearleap; and Microsoft picked up a mobile communications company, Talko.  Other deals saw Ingram Micro buy the Odin Service Automation business from Parallels and in the storage world Carbonite bought Evault from Seagate.

ToshibaOther companies in the news include the venerable Toshiba, which has been decimated following the financial scandals it suffered.  It looks like layoffs might reach 10,000 as it undergoes a massive restructuring.  Oracle announced an investment in Austin, Texas to build a campus attracting new grads and Samsung and Apple might have settled a five year patent dispute.  An IDC report was bad news for Blackberry, as it forecasts that IOS, Android and Windows will be the top smartphone platforms for the foreseeable future.

US GovernmentOn the economic front the US economy shows no sign of slowing down, adding another 250,000 jobs in November.  All of the indicators were positive, with four separate surveys indicating that companies were going to be growing their tech employee base in 2016.  Canada however is another story, losing 35,700 jobs in November, albeit many of them temporary jobs associated with the election.  The unemployment rate did edge up to 7.1% and while the third quarter saw GDP rise slightly after two quarters of contraction, the economy continues to sputter.  Having said that, demand for professionals is increasing faster than supply and Canada is anticipating an increase in skills shortages.

I have to say that 2015 was not a great year in Canada’s economy, but maybe the US recovery will have a drag along effect for Canada in 2016?  We can hope!  That’s my look at the tech news for December 2015.  Until next month, walk fast and smile!

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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?
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Top 10 Blog Entries for 2015

Top Ten Eagle blog entriesThe following were the most popular blog entries from the last year.  If you missed any of them then now is an opportunity to catch up!

Surviving a Downturn (in Alberta?).  This was a “reprint” of advice from Tom Peters just before the last recession.  It seemed topical back in January as oil prices plummeted and jobs were being cut in the oil patch.  Unfortunately things are not better yet!

“You buck yourself up with the thought that “this too shall pass”—but then remind yourself that it might not pass anytime soon, so you re-dedicate yourself to making the absolute best of what you have now.”  Tom Peters

Independent Contractor Myths & Realities in CANADA!  The Canadian Federal regulations around independent contractors have not changed in thirty years, despite the changing nature of work.  Too often I see “experts” pontificating about the risks of using contractors without a real understanding of the subject.  There are many benefits to companies using independent contractors and so this blog was focused on presenting the facts!

“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

Attitude Matters … A Little Humility is a Good Thing!  This was a reminder that no matter how good we are, or think we are, it can always change!  It does not cost anything to be a little humble, and it will help with relationships that could be important to you at some point in the future.  Also includes 13 rules from General Colin Powell.

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; noting on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” W. W. Ziege

Email Etiquette – 20 Tips!  Email is such a big part of our lives that everybody should be aware of the basics of email etiquette.  Some of it is good manners, some of it is common sense and some of it is good time management … hope it helps!

“Communication works for those who work at it.” John Powell

10 Lessons From a Retirement Party on Living a Good Life.  A good friend of mine retired this past year, and it was interesting to see the impact he had on so many people.  He is a role model and we can all learn from him.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”  Vivian Greene 

Positive (or Negative) Influences Can Change Your Life.  Some of the best advice I ever received was to surround myself with positive people, and equally try to avoid negative influences.  This blog entry expounds on those principles.

“Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher.”  Oprah Winfrey

10 Thoughts About Measuring Success?  For many people success is defined by money or position, but that is narrow thinking.  Success should be personal, not necessarily what others consider success.  YOU need to decide what success looks like for you.

“Stop chasing the money and start chasing the passion.”  Tony Hsieh

Leadership Should Be Uncomfortable (and it is)!  Leadership is sometimes glamorised, so it is important that you know what you are getting into!  This was an attempt at showing some of the realities of leadership.

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”  Jim Rohn

A Mentor/Mentee Relationship is Attractive BUT Hard Work!  Both mentors and mentees need to work hard if such a relationship is to bring the real value.  Learning by osmosis in an ad-hoc fashion is rarely effective!

“For every one of us that succeeds, it is because there’s somebody there to show you the way out.” Oprah Winfrey

Waiting is Not a Winning Strategy.  In contradiction to the phrase, Good things come to those who wait, my suggestion is that you need to make things happen yourself!

“Don’t just stand there.  Make it happen.”  Lee Iacoca

Hope you enjoyed some of my blog entries in 2015 … in January I will have been blogging for 10 years, and I have written about 1,850 entries.  I guess that makes me “opinionated”!

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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?
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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

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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?
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Tech Industry News for October 2015

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the tech industry for October 2015. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of previous year’s Octobers …

Five years ago in October Twenty-Ten Bell Canada bought a data center in Montreal (Hypertec) and picked up xwave from its subsidiary Bell Aliant.  Rogers paid $425 million for Atria networks and IBM picked up Toronto based Clarity Systems.  A year later in steve jobsOctober 2011 an industry icon, Steve Jobs passed away and IBM announced Virginia Rometty as their first female CEO.  On the M&A front Oracle made a couple of buys, including RightNow Technologies ($1.5 Billion) and Endeca Technologies; Sony bought Ericsson out of their Sony Ericsson joint venture ($1.5 Billion); Red Hat bought storage company Gluster ($136 million); and Cisco bought BNI Video ($99 million).  Three years ago EMC logothe October 2012 news was dominated by Hurricane Sandy and the US presidential election.   The big deal of the month was a $1.5 billion merger of two US cell carriers, T-Mobile and MetroPCS.  There were also a number of smaller deals, with EMC beefing up in the security area (Silver Tail), Telus expanding its medical solutions portfolio (Kinlogix Medical) and Avnet improving its IBM capabilities (BrightStar and BSP).  In the social networking world Yelp bought its European competitor Qype in a $50 million deal. Oracle logo a large software company originally noted for its databaseOctober 2013 was not a dynamic M&A month, although there was certainly some activity.  Oracle announced two acquisitions, both “cloud based companies: Big Machines provides pricing and quote date for sales and orders; and Compendium is a content marketing company.  Other “names” out shopping included Avaya buying the software division of ITNavigator for its call centre and social media monitoring software; Rackspace bought ZeroVM a tech company with a software solution for the cloud; Intuit bought consulting company Level Up Analytics, primarily to acquire its talent; VMWare bought “desktop as a service” company Desktone; Netsuite bought human capital software company TribeHR; and Telus enhanced its mobile offering with the purchase of Public HP logoMobile.  Last year in October 2014 we saw a new trend, with two public companies both choosing to split into smaller entities.  HP announced it was creating a business service focused Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and personal computing & printer company HP Inc.  Interestingly enough this takes effect November 1, 2015.  Symantec also chose to split into two independent public companies, one focused on business and consumer security products, the other on its information management portfolio.  Other interesting news saw IBM pay $1.5 Billion to GlobalFoundries so it would take away its money losing semiconductor manufacturing business.  NEST bought out competitor Revolv; EMC bought three cloud companies, The Cloudscaling Group, Maginatics and Spanning Cloud Apps; and in Korea, Kakao and Daum merged to form a $2.9 billion internet entity.

Which brings us back to the present …

dell logoOctober 2015 brought some big deals with the biggest seeing Dell offer $26 billion to buy storage company EMC.  Interestingly an EMC subsidiary, VMWare was also out shopping, picking up a small email startup, Boxer.  In another deal involving “big bucks”, Western Digital are paying $19 billion for storage competitor Sandisk.  IBM were also writing a big cheque, paying $2 billion in a big data/internet of things play for The Weather Network (minus the TV operations), and IBM also picked up a storage company, Cleversafe.  Cisco paid $522.5 million for cybersecurity firm Lancope; LogMeIn is paying $110 million for IBM logoLastPass; Trend Micro is paying $350 million for next generation intrusion prevention systems company HP Tippingpoint; Red Hat picked up deployment task execution and automation company Ansible; Vasco Data Security is paying $85 million for solution provider Silanis; and Apple is buying a speech processing startup, VocalIQ.  As industries converge it is interesting to see Securitas pay $350 million for Diebold’s US Electronic Security business.

Twitter logoOther companies in the news include Twitter who announced 336 layoffs; Apple lost a patent fight with the University of Wisconsin to the tune of $234 million (of course they also recorded record profits of more than $5 billion).  Google are launching a neat project to bring the internet to 100,000 Indonesian people using balloons (Project Loon).

The US economy continues to impress, adding another 200,000 jobs and having generally positive indicators from surveys and reports.  There are signs that the growth is slowing but this is just to be expected.  Canada added 12,100 jobs in September but the unemployment rate rose to 7.1%.  A new Liberal government was voted in, so we will watch how that works out.

That is my update on tech news for October 2015 … until next month, stay positive, walk fast and smile!
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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?
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5 Ideas to Get the Recruiter’s Attention

Getting a recruiters attentionIn the recruiting business we are constantly looking for great people to meet the needs of our clients.

When your job entails looking at hundreds and thousands of resumes it can be easy to get a little cynical.  Our job is to sort through the large numbers of resumes and weed out those that are not a fit.  Just some of the things that will influence us as we go about this task are inconsistencies in resumes, unexplained gaps in experience, inconsistencies in write-ups from one job to another, poor grammar and spelling mistakes.

We see generic resumes submitted on multiple different roles.  If we are looking for a project manager then we will be looking for project management experience in the resume,  a focus on project management in the candidate’s more recent experiences and in any overview.  If the focus of the resume is anything else then that candidate is likely not going to be considered for a project management role, even though they might have relevant experience.

We look for experience we would expect for a given role and when we don’t see it we are left wondering if the person really is qualified.  If someone is applying for a technical role that would suggest several different types of skills, we want to see all of those skills on the resume.  Often candidates assume that because they have a certain role on their resume that all of the requisite skills to do that role are assumed … never assume!

We sometimes see write-ups that look very familiar, and references that are the same as many other resumes.  We have seen a type of fraud where groups of individuals, typically from the same origins, get together and provide references for each other and their resumes are almost word for word the same!  Obviously we stay away from these people.

“Quality is never an accident.  It is always the result of intelligent effort.”  John Ruskin

We have very little time to respond to our clients with qualified candidates so we will always prefer to work with people we know.  That might be people we have worked with before, people we have met and interviewed or people that are referred by trusted sources.

Candidates applying for jobs may wonder why they have difficulty getting considered by recruiters and may assume that recruiters are just not competent, perhaps they are rude or maybe they are playing favorites.  The reality is that they operate in a very fast paced environment and for you to be considered seriously you need to help yourself.

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”  Beverly Sills

Here are 5 thoughts for people looking to get the attention of recruiters:

  1. Make sure your resume is a true reflection of the job you are applying for;
  2. Put significant effort into the content … this is a “selling document” and needs to convince the recruiter that you are someone worth considering.
  3. Make sure you have no spelling or grammatical errors in your resume.  Get help if necessary.
  4. Make the recruiters job easy.  If the advertised role asks for specific skills (2 years of Java development etc) then point out specifically where you have the experience, and make sure it is clear in your resume.
  5. Try to develop a rapport with a few recruiters.  Getting interviewed and providing references BEFORE they have a job you want will enhance your chances.

“If you want to earn a certain amount of money, develop yourself into the person who is worth being paid that amount of money.”  Idowu Koyenikan
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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?
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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.

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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?
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