Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Job Market Trends

Hiring trends and in-demand skills in regional job markets across Canada. Posts are written by recruitment industry experts with the insight to job opportunities.

Canadian Job Market Update for November 2020

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee, Co-Founder of Eagle

One of the ways Eagle adds value is to provide regular job market information.  Sometimes it is a look at Canada as a whole and other times we focus more in-depth on specific markets.  This update is a high-level look at the Canadian job market, and the factors influencing it.  In previous months we have provided market updates, specific to different markets, which you can find through the links here:

Canadian Job Market Quarterly Update Across CanadaThere are a number of indicators that I have used over the years to give an idea of how things are going.  One such indicator is the markets, and for this purpose I have focused on the TSX.  When the pandemic hit back in March, the TSX dropped to 11,350, and here in mid-November it is sitting at 16,800.  In the last five years it has rarely been above this level, except for a few months just before the pandemic hit.  Generally, the markets have performed well even during a pandemic!

The unemployment rate is an obvious indicator for the job market, and as I write this the unemployment rate is at 8.5%.  Employment is coming back with employment numbers improving on average by 2.7% every month since May.  The recovery of course is very uneven with some professions taking a real hammering.  In April there were about 5.5 million Canadians whose jobs were affected due to the pandemic, and currently that number is about 1.1 million. So improvement, but if you are unemployed, that doesn’t pay the bills.  Surprisingly, according to Statistics Canada, the professional, scientific and tech professions are in a better position today than pre-COVID.  Another indicator saw October as the first month where the self-employed numbers improved since March, which is perhaps the start of good news for our independent contractor community.  In April, Eagle experienced a 70% drop in orders from our clients but have experienced a steady recovery since then, such that order levels are about 80% of the pre-COVID demand.  This of course can change as lockdowns and outbreaks occur, but we are optimistic that we will not go back to the April levels of unemployment.

Job seekers willing to “go where the jobs are” will always fare better than those unwilling to relocate.  In Canada, the four largest provinces represent close to 90% of the jobs, with Ontario being the largest (close to 40%); Quebec (approx. 23%); BC (13.5%) and Alberta (12.5%).  So, when considering where to look for jobs, a province that employs a lot of people and has a relatively low unemployment rate is a good place to look — BC, Quebec and Ontario all fit that bill.  Alberta is still struggling because of the hit on the oil and gas sector.

One of the big factors affecting the Alberta market is the price of oil.   The price of a barrel in Canada is just under $30 and between $13 and $15 less than world prices.  One factor for this price differential is Canada’s reliance on just one client, the United States.  Unless this changes that will likely remain a factor in Alberta’s economy.   There are however still opportunities in Alberta, just not the booming demand we saw in the past.

The US is Canada’s largest trading partner and represents both opportunity and risk.  A Democratic government is not likely to be a friend to the oil and gas sector, which will continue to hurt Alberta.  Pre-COVID, the US enjoyed record levels of employment, with significant skill shortages.  There has been a significant dampening on the jobs front during the pandemic.   We have seen significant investment in Canada by large US companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google etc. all adding to their Canadian presence to tap into the talent up here, and I expect that to continue, but likely after the recovery.  Canada is also currently able to attract skilled immigrant talent easier than in the US, whose immigration laws are more prohibitive, but a change in government in the US is likely to ease that issue.  We will know more as the new administration rolls out its plans.

Tech job activity was very strong pre-COVID and while we have not recovered to the same levels yet, there is still good opportunity for in-demand skills across Canada, and that demand is increasing.  Technology has played a huge part in allowing companies to operate during the pandemic, with Digital Transformation allowing work from home strategies and websites, security and payments systems playing a significant role in the proliferation of online buying.  We typically suggest the tech unemployment rate as being about half of the general unemployment rate, but in COVID times, I would suggest an even wider gap.  The general unemployment rate of 8.5% includes the huge impact on the hospitality, travel and retail world while many tech professionals have been able to continue to work from home.  It would surprise me if the tech unemployment rate is more than 4%, which is not far off full employment.

For a more detailed look at the specific markets across Canada I suggest you read the linked writeups from Eagle’s Executive team across the country, referenced earlier.

Eagle’s focus is technology professionals and the most in demand areas/skills recently have included: Cloud, Government, Telecom, Security, Payments, CRM, Digital, Big Data, BI and AI; Agile BAs, Change Management, Quality Assurance, Architects, Solution Architects, Front & Back end developers, Full Stack developers, DevOps engineers; and even mainframe is making a comeback!

In summary, people with those in-demand tech skills and experience should have little difficulty in finding employment, either contract or perm if not immediately, then very soon!  A willingness to relocate to the bigger centers will only increase marketability.

It remains to be seen when things will return to something “more normal”, but life needs to go on and people in tech are in demand, many can work from home and that demand is only going to increase.

For employers our advice is this:

If you see great talent that will be a fit in your organization then act now, because their availability will not last long.  We will return to skills shortages sooner rather than later.

Now is a great time to refine and speed up that hiring process!  Finding, screening, hiring and onboarding can all be done remotely and efficiently, and will become an absolute necessity very soon.  We are still seeing our candidates receive multiple job offers and clients losing talent because they are too slow to make a decision, even now!

Regional Job Market Update for Ottawa (October 2020)

Paul Morin By Paul Morin,
Division Manager, Ottawa at Eagle

While the National Capital Region continues to share many of the COVID-19 economic worries of the rest of Canada and the world, there are some positive stories. Early on, The Feds were able to impressively overcome some initial worries and adapted quickly so their entire staff could work remotely. Now, more than half a year into the pandemic, the IT job market in the Ottawa area has been stable for a few months.

Ottawa Job MarketMuch of the job market’s demand has to do with the growth that certain Federal Government departments are seeing as they play a key role in the country’s COVID-19 response — most notably Shared Services Canada, Canada Revenue Agency, Canada Border Services Agency, Employment and Social Development Canada, and Health Canada. Not only have these departments found themselves with new, unplanned projects to help the country cope with a situation nobody could have predicted, they have also been forced to fast-track several other implementations. For example, many departments are pushing forward on their implementation of M365 sooner than originally expected.

There are also signs that more is yet to come. Even the departments who aren’t growing head count now are using their downtime to put Supply Arrangements in place, ensuring that they’re prepared for staff augmentation as soon as they get the green light that things have ‘returned to normal’.

Competition through all of this is high and everyone is hungry. While the Federal Government is hiring, the overall economy in the region continues to be lower than usual. Those with skills in emerging technologies can still command top rates because the pool of resources is not as deep, but competition remains extremely high for most other IT positions. With more that 80% of our clients still having work forces working remotely, the candidate pool has opened to the province and even across the country.

Any client experience with emerging technologies continues to be the hottest skills sets and Cloud Architects are in high demand. We are also still seeing lots of requests for Systems Analysts, Testers, and Project Managers, and our private sector clients have lately been asking for resources with solid DevOps skills.

In addition to job market activity, job searching and hiring in Ottawa are seeing challenges comparable to other regions.  While candidates and clients are getting more comfortable with video conferencing for interviews as they adjust to working from home, it is not ideal. We are also hearing that when a new contract starts, consultants have expressed struggles in connecting and building rapport. It is not impossible to do so, but certainly is taking longer to develop team chemistry. Clients are seeing similar challenges with various stages of onboarding, but both sides are adapting as our ‘new normal’ continues.

Overall, the NCR has a similar story to tell as most other cities world-wide, but the benefit of being home to the Federal Government has certainly helped.  Their typical push for increased headcount in February/March is likely to start before Christmas to ensure people are in place to drive results in their 4th quarter. Stay tuned to our job board and be in touch with your Eagle contact for the latest opportunities in the NCR.

What Are the Most In-Demand IT Skills for 2020?

Eagle’s founder, Kevin Dee, recently had the opportunity to participate on a panel in a webinar hosted by CPA4IT. The event, titled The Future of Work for Independent Contracting Webinar, set out to discuss how Canadian IT contractors can survive and thrive in this time and what practical tips that they can utilize to achieve success at work as an Independent Contractor.

One topic discussed was the most in-demand IT skills for 2020. While there are a number of exciting and new technologies on the horizon, sparking demand from top employers, Kevin Dee explains in the video below that the traditional, basic roles are still in highest demand and are not going anywhere.

Eagle’s CEO, Janis Grantham, is joining the panel for the next webinar hosted by CPA4IT on Thursday, October 22nd. They’ll be building on the previous discussion and answering questions about the future of work for independent contracting in Canada. Click here to register today.

Regional Job Market Update for Edmonton, Alberta

Kelly Benson By Kelly Benson,
Branch Manager at Eagle

City of EdmontonAlberta’s “recovery” from a challenging recession has been long, slow and a bit tortuous. On top of a challenging past few years, a belt-tightening by the provincial government last fall caused a ripple affect across a number of sectors.

In spite of starting 2020, with the highest unemployment rate in the country, many Edmontonians entered the new decade with a renewed sense of optimism. The only way to go from here was up, right?

Enter COVID-19.

These past 6 months have been very challenging, but things are slowly starting to turn. Edmonton is currently at 91% of pre-COVID employment levels and this slow climb back to “normal” is encouraging. A cautious optimism is slowly returning, but we are expecting higher than normal unemployment and low growth for the remainder of the year. With the threat of a “second wave”, there is still hesitation and many companies do not yet have enough confidence in the economy to kick-off large enterprise projects.

Among tech workers, the news isn’t all bad. Generally, less affected by major market swings, tech jobs have continued to remain in demand. On average, the unemployment rate in IS runs approximately 3-4% points below the general average.

With a few notable exceptions, it remains a buyer’s market with the number of job seekers outpacing the supply of jobs in Edmonton. Here at Eagle, we are seeing a steady increase in demand from our clients looking for IS professionals. While we aren’t back to normal activity levels yet, we are encouraged by this.

Looking ahead to the final quarter of 2020, we expect the greatest demand to be for contractors with specialized technical skills, including Software Developers, Data Engineers and Data Analytics consultants. Opportunities in Organizational Change Management roles also continue to come up as companies look to increase employee adoption and minimize resistance of some of the initiatives that were a result of rapid roll-out due to the COVID crisis.

With many IS professionals working remotely as the norm these days, the job market is also beginning to be more national in scale. Opportunities across the country are opening up to non-local resources as companies become more open to “out-of-town” contractors. Many local consultants are taking advantage of this to continue keeping their skills current while the local market continues its slow recovery.

Regional Job Market Update for Toronto, Ontario

Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

Toronto, Ontario CanadaCOVID-19 has spared almost no business and the IT job market in Toronto is no exception. While it has certainly been spared some of the devastating consequences of other industries like the airline, hotel, and hospitalities, it has not been without pain and hardship of its own.

We’ve seen a mix of reactions and strategies from organizations to get through this turmoil, and it all depends on the company’s individual circumstances. While some are able and willing to use this time to accelerate their digital transformation and IT systems others are simply not financially able to, depending on where IT fits within their business and the impact of COVID.

Overall, though, there are technology employment trends that are standing out, many of which are the result of COVID-19 adjustment strategies. For example:

  • There is an increased demand for security resources as companies deal with the challenges associated with a remote workforce and the security challenges associated with keeping data secure from so many remote locations.
  • The demand for resources skilled in data analysis and analytics is expected to continue, if not rise.  Companies are competing to better understand how their customers operate in this reality.  Data positions are in high demand and this looks to continue.
  • Web-based projects continue to be on the rise, with UI and UX developers being sought after throughout all industries.

As stated, the outlook for IT jobs in Toronto is rosier than many other industries and locations.  Jobs grew in Ontario in June and July and IT far outpaced the median here. Specifically in Toronto, employers are continuing to recognize the strength of talent that’s out there. Once again, CBRE ranked Toronto the 4th best city in North America for tech talent in 2020, citing an overall 5-year employment growth of 36.5% and 5-year wage growth of 11.2%.

Part of the city’s success is due to the thousands of immigrant tech workers choosing to come here rather than the US, and Toronto is benefitting from that trend. Policy south of the border is encouraging more immigrants from Silicon Valley to make the Great White North their home, and leading companies are following the talent, choosing Toronto for their headquarters.

As we all band together to get through these tough times, the future remains bright in the Toronto IT market.  The expectation that organizations will continue to invest in IT in Toronto means the demand for top talent will remain high. That said, competition for contracts is also strong, so if you’re an IT contractor navigating your way through tough times, my advice is to continue expanding your networks and talking to recruiters. Companies who are hiring are doing so quickly, meaning the contractors who are top of mind and keeping their skills fresh are the ones most likely to get the gig.

Statistics Canada’s Most Recent Visual Insights of COVID-19 in Canada

The Federal Government has been carefully monitoring all effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of keeping a close eye on infection rates and the economy, Statistics Canada is researching people’s behaviour and how their coping, then sharing their findings in various formats. Here are a couple infographics that StatCan shared in early July that we found particularly interesting.

COVID-19 and the Labour Market in June 2020

StatCan has always released monthly job numbers to provide an understanding of the country’s economic health. Since the pandemic began, they’ve also been publishing more specific insights to help us understand the effects of COVID-19. The most recent infographic outlines June’s job numbers and compares them to February. It shows that slowly but surely, numbers are returning for normal, but some industries and demographics continue to suffer more than others.

Labour Market

 

Precautions that Canadians will take or continue to take as COVID-19 safety measures are relaxed

Last month, StatCan also conducted a survey to examine the attitudes and concerns of Canadians. As restrictions lift, who will continue taking measures to protect themselves, and to what extent. It’s worth noting that since the survey, many jurisdictions across Canada have made masks mandatory in public places, but overall, this infographic provides an interesting snapshot at the opinions of Canadians during these bizarre times.

COVID-19 Precautions Across Canada

Regional Job Market Update for Montreal

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Senior Vice President, Business Development at Eagle

Panoramic Photo Montreal city fron Mount RoyalThe COVID-19 Pandemic and associated deep recession in Canada has made market,  job and employment reports a bleak exercise indeed. As GDP has shrunk substantially in Canada and in fact globally , employers shocked with an unanticipated event reacted initially by stopping hiring then, implementing layoffs, and finally followed by a” how do we survive” — more specifically “Are we prepared to compete in a fully digital marketplace?”

Quebec, and more specifically Montreal, was hit very hard and early by the pandemic. The unemployment rate in Quebec went from a near full employment rate of 4.2% in February to 14.2 % in May. We know from previous data that the technology unemployment rate is about half the general  broader unemployment rate.  The question is where did the Montreal tech job market go? Well, we know that at the same time the pandemic was raging through employment markets and economies, there was an incredible Big Tech rally that completely defies what was happening on the street. This added hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth to companies like Apple, Amazon , Microsoft and Ottawa’s own Shopify, which recently passed RBC as Canada’s largest capitalized company  worth $164B !

Montreal is one of 3 big Tech hubs in Canada, along with Toronto and Vancouver. We certainly saw this market resilience in Montreal as it was one of  Eagle’s busiest branches relatively speaking throughout the Pandemic. The city, while also hit hard early with the Pandemic, also led Canada in restoring some sense of the new “abnormal ” as it moved first to open the economy in Canada. With diverse sectors along with Tech, for example Telco, players in Montreal moved quickly and continued to hire what now was more generally available resources in an strategic effort to amp up their digitized commerce and service offerings.

We have seen now many organizations in Montreal and elsewhere take the event as a time to evaluate their digital strength and no doubt in time refocus on projects to ensure they are able to survive and thrive in an ecommerce world. In demand roles in Montreal include PMs, Full Stack and Application Developers , QA resources along with Security and Cyber resources.

The Popularity and Salaries of Programming, Scripting and Markup Languages According to the Stack Overflow 2020 Developer Survey

Every year, Stack Overflow surveys tens of thousands of developers from around the world to get a feel on trends in the industry, including popular technologies, salaries and employment, as well as to learn more about developers’ intentions and behaviours. The 2020 Results were released recently and one could spend hours exploring the various numbers and statistics they report.

One topic that tends to be of high interest for our readers is trends about the hottest programming, scripting and markup languages, and Stack Overflow has no shortage of data there. So, here’s a summary of what we found most interesting in terms of language.

The Most Popular Languages Among Professional Developers

Stack Overflow surveyed those who both develop as a hobby and professionally, and these numbers were provided as a total, as well as just for professionals. Among professional developers’ responses, there was no surprise that JavaScript remains at the top of the list, followed by HTML/CSS, SQL, Python and Java.  Stack Overflow also noted “moderate gains for TypeScript, edging out C in terms of popularity. Additionally, Ruby, once in the top 10 of this list as recently as 2017, has declined.”

Most Popular Programming Languages
Stack Overflow 2020 Developer Survey: Most Popular Programming Languages

Most Loved, Dreaded and Wanted Languages

Another common section in the annual Stack Overflow survey is where they go beyond the most used languages and understand what developers actually enjoy working with. Stack Overflow defines a “Loved” language as one that developers are currently using and express interest in continuing to use. Dreaded languages are the opposite — developers are using it but did not express interest in continuing to use it. And, wanted languages are those developers are not using, but would like to.

A few interesting observations Stack Overflow makes are that Rust continues to be the most loved and it also jumped up in the list of most wanted languages. More notably, TypeScript surpassed Python this year, taking the #2 spot in the Most Loved list, and Go jumped five spots on that list compared to last year.

Most Loved, Dreaded and Wanted Languages
Stack Overflow 2020 Developer Survey: Most Loved, Dreaded and Wanted Languages

The Programming, Scripting and Markup Languages with the Highest Salaries

The charts below show global salary averages of respondents who use each language, as well as the average salaries in the United States. Globally, Perl tops the list, which Stack Overflow points out may be related to the fact it’s also one of the most dreaded languages, and employers need to compensate for that. It’s interesting to note that salaries in the United States are significantly higher than global averages — the top language in the United States (Scala) brings in a salary almost double that of the top language globally.

Salaries Based on Language Used
Stack Overflow 2020 Developer Survey: Global salary averages of respondents who use each language

Web Developers: Here’s Your Up-to-Date Roadmap for 2020

The LearnCode.academy YouTube channel has over 600k followers and is known for their free web development tutorials, website design tutorials and more. They also manage a Web Development Roadmap that covers everything you need to learn in the profession, from the most beginner skills through more advanced development techniques.

In this video, they walk through the web development roadmap for 2020, covering topics including basic frontend (1:06), recommended deployment platforms (3:50), advanced frontend (7:27), backend (18:40) and DevOps (25:27). For all of the details, make a coffee and hit play on the video. It’s a little more than half an hour, but could be well worth your time. Or, skip the explanation and browse the complete Web Development Roadmap here.

Regional Job Market Update for Edmonton, Alberta (February 2020)

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

City of EdmontonLast time I wrote an update on the Edmonton job market, things were admittedly a bit stagnant and the Alberta economy continued to limp along. Activity in the IT sector, however, was still robust as organizations continued to push through large projects aimed at digitizing and automating their work environments. The public sector, a major contributor to the Edmonton economy, was still a large part of the IT contracting market and it felt like Edmonton, as it is inclined to do, would ride out the storm. How things have changed. Edmonton ended 2019 with the highest jobless rate in the country at 8%, almost 2 full points up from the previous December. Interestingly, Edmonton and Calgary basically swapped places with our neighbors to the south finishing the year with an unemployment rate of 7%. Other underlying numbers demonstrate the challenges the city is now facing:

  • GDP growth is at its lowest since 2015 (.5%);
  • Full time jobs have been declining, many of those positions formally in the public sector as the newly elected provincial government slashes spending as per the October budget; and,
  • If you are a young person aged 15-24, your options for employment have slipped drastically, with unemployment for that demographic at around 17% according to Stats Canada.

How does all this affect you if you are an Information Technology professional. The most obvious hit is the belt tightening going on in most government sectors. At Eagle, we’ve already witnessed the early termination of projects and the scaling back of major initiatives. And that has affected employees and contractors alike. The provincial government has also eliminated several tax incentives directly targeted at attracting technology firms in BC and other jurisdictions to relocate to Alberta. While hard to directly quantify what this means in terms of jobs and lost opportunity, it’s just one more blow to the tech sector.

What is also becoming evident is that the competition for contracts and jobs is heating up. You are not only competing with a greater number of candidates, but you can likely expect rates to become more competitive in the short term as individuals sharpen their pencil to better their chances of winning.

So, what can you do if you find yourself without a contract and panic starting to set in? First, stop panicking… there are options.

If you have saved funds for just such a purpose, how about taking that certification, course or program to skill up and make yourself as marketable as you possibly can. It can be hard to find the time, especially as a contractor, to keep up with your training, now might be a good time to do so.

Or, you might want to consider moving to a market that currently has demand for IT professionals. I’ve written before about moving to Winnipeg to take on contract work there. The reasons are simple. Lots of opportunity, less competition and a cost of living that makes it easier to relocate vs other urban centers such as Toronto or Vancouver. Remember, it doesn’t have to be forever, just enough time to weather the storm.

Hopefully, the storm won’t last and there might even be some good news. Edmonton gained 3100 positions in December and unemployment is expected to level off and perhaps move from its current position to the 7 – 7.5% range, according to City economists. In the meantime, stay close to your favorite recruiters and seek advice from them about how to make yourself as competitive and attractive a candidate as possible.