The Eagle Blog

The Canadian IT Job Market in July 2006

The following is a look at the cross Canada IT job market as complied by Eagle’s three Regional Vice Presidents.

Across Canada, a number of organisations have recently indicated that they have streamlined their hiring processes, re-evaluated retention strategies, and initiated in-depth evaluations of their “marketability” as an employer of choice, all in response to the current robust employment market most of Canada is experiencing. Some more sophisticated organizations are now viewing their “employment brand” in much the same way companies have typically evaluated their product or service brands in the past. The latest employment figures, specifically in technology, paint a continued picture of positive growth in both current employment and future hiring expectations. This is good news for the IT market assuming substance comes with the branding spin. Set against all of this is an undercurrent of competing outlooks however, one of tremendous business confidence in the West whereas employers in the East, particularly in Ontario and Quebec, are much more cautious as the manufacturing sector adjusts to the new realities of a higher Canadian dollar.

In the West, the City of Calgary recently announced that it has lost over 200 employees in the last quarter to the hot labour market. While not all of these are IT professionals, the recruitment and retention issue clearly has been cited as one of acute pain for the City to address. Many other firms are facing this identical issue. Salary, wage, and hourly rate inflation continue to skyrocket for organisations, especially across Alberta, and specifically among IT resources, geologists and accountants. This is creating many challenges for firms who are finding the budgetary balance difficult to address effectively and is also fueling an increased willingness for some organisations to listen to outsourcing and offshoring pitches. Professionalism of IT subcontractors has rapidly become one of the hot topics among hiring managers with the advent of many subcontractors ruining their own reputation and future by ‘chasing the immediate dollar’ and leaving unfulfilled contracts and project work behind them. Hiring managers are increasingly becoming savvy at flushing out many of these individuals before they engage them.

Despite what many people perceive to be a usually slower time for organisations to seek and fill IT contract or permanent positions, across Western Canada, the IT labour market continues to stay quite active. In fact, since early June, there has been a significant surge of IT professionals that seem to be intensifying their ‘shopping’ or ‘testing the market’ for new positions with a lot of queries about hiring activity and the current value (hourly rates/salaries) for their expertise. Additionally, there is widespread consensus and speculation that in September an even stronger spike in IT hiring activity will occur.

All-in-all, the IT labour market is good with some fascinating projects on the books of some great companies in the West.

In the GTA, June was slow for the first two weeks but picked up significantly towards the end of the month – just in time for the Canada Day long weekend and celebrations. Demand for IT contract resources within the private sector has softened, especially within the banking industry. Government activity continues to hold steady. This has meant that many projects are moving into new phases. These projects require new contractors specifically Project Coordinators, Project Managers and Technical Architects skills. Key initiatives are starting to build up in the Health Care area of the government, as well as, Educational and Children Services. Overall, there are a number of projects in the implementation phase. That being said, there has not much demand for new development support-type roles.

Full-time placement activity continues to hold strong in the GTA. Many organizations continue to favour full-time hiring over contract resources in an effort to bypass the issues surrounding the tech crunch and securing resources over the long-term. Hot skills for full-time placement include: SAP, EDI, Cognos and Security.

In Eastern Canada most of the technology talk in the last several weeks has centered around what seems to be the never ending saga of Federal Government Technology Procurement as it pertains to the larger overall initiative “The Way Forward”. The Way Forward is Public Works’ series of strategic sourcing initiatives due out this year. The Feds have consulted with the industry over the course of the last 12 months, turned those consultations aside in favour of a US-based outside consultant, gone back again to the industry, based on some serious concerns brought forth at their proposed solution presented in early June and gone back yet again with some further revisions due out in final form soon. All of which has served to keep IT vendors, consultants and federal government client departments themselves, nervously guessing as to what may come next. It’s expected the overall Standing Offer will hit the streets sometime in mid to late July. Then again, it was expected that the Ottawa Senators would win the Stanley Cup! Stay tuned on both fronts.

In Montreal, the Festival season is in full swing as is the market, as things continue to heat up on both the permanent and contract fronts. SAP resources, both technical and functional, are in demand, as well as Project Managers and as always, Oracle resources. In the Atlantic market, hot skills include Oracle Developers, .NET Developers and Project Managers. Ottawa has seen in increase in demand for Change Management Consultants, Business Analysts, QA Testers, Java Developers and SAP FI/CO and MM Consultants. Oh yes, and Ottawa could also use a huge defenseman to replace Zdeno Chara!

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