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.

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.

The New (and, likely, persistent) “Normal” — Constrained Labour Supply — Opens New Opportunities for Canadian IT Contractors

The New (and, likely, persistent) "Normal" -- Constrained Labour Supply -- Opens New Opportunities for Canadian IT Contractors

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President Strategic Accounts & Client Solutions, Western Canada at Eagle

I’m just going to come out and say it… Unless there is a global economic melt-down, tight labour supply is here and it’s here to stay. If you already believe this to be so, stop reading and spend your valuable time on another blog post as I’m just going to re-affirm your convictions. If you aren’t sure about this (or are one of those people who really enjoy having their convictions re-affirmed), then by all means… read on!

With respect to the “baby-boomer-retirement-leaving-a-shortage-of-workers” scenario, this has been predicted for decades, and the United States appears to have hit their tipping point this past year. Yes, their economy is strong but it is more than that; they are at 50-year lows in unemployment rate (another ½ point lower and they’ll be at 70-year lows). This is a measure of broad-based employment – not just technical (or even professional) roles, its pretty much across the board. However, in tech, it is even worse. There are more job openings than there are people in the space needed to fill them. In my last blog post for Eagle’s Talent Development Centre, I discussed the growing “skills gap” but this isn’t what I’m referring to here (although the skills gap is part of it). There are more open roles in IT in the USA than there are IT people looking for work, regardless of the skills gap (the fact that the skills gap exists just makes the issue a whole lot more impactful). Industry followers have predicted that fully 1/3 of the US’ open IT positions may go unfilled. Because of this, the US is exporting their shortages to the rest of the world by either opening new offices in other countries, having foreign workers move to the US to work or, more often, hiring remote workers who can complete their jobs in their current country of residence.

In an article posted by CIO Dive, they discuss the severe shortages for Cloud experts. They suggest that Cloud specialists aren’t even answering their phones anymore as they are getting 20+ calls every week about new opportunities. The solution for filling these roles, the article suggests, is to hire based on attitude and aptitude and train what is needed. Interestingly, this article could have just as easily been written about some other IT technology and still remained valid — replace Cloud with AI, Blockchain, CyberSecurity, Data Science, Big Data Analytics or any number of other “hot technologies” and the message would still hold true. A shortage in labour is the new normal.

What are IT consultants, employees and contractors to do with this information? Well, it certainly will put more power in your hands to choose the roles, projects and companies that you want to work at. And you may find yourself and your staffing company partner in a better position to negotiate rates on your behalf. But as I wrote in my previous blog, other aspects of the opportunity are sure to become more important in your decision making. The following attributes may hold greater weight when applicants make their own, personal decisions as to what constitutes “premiere assignments”:

  • Strong corporate mandate/message/culture… matching your own morals and philosophies
  • Flexibility… work/life balanced offered and/or having the ability to complete remote work
  • Team Dynamics… fitting in with the existing team, their approach and practices
  • Is the project set up for success?
  • Leading edge technology or approaches leveraged by the company… learning something new and keeping your resume current
  • In the same vein as the point above, are training and/or certifications offered by the company that is doing the hiring?
  • Work environment perks… free snacks, catered lunches, bring pet to work, etc.
  • Will the project allow you to “make a difference”? Is your work truly impactful?
  • Tuition reimbursement… typically a perk offered to permanent hires at some companies, but as supply tightens, this may become more common!

Some of these attributes or “perks” are mostly seen in the permanent hiring of employees; however, as supply becomes even more constrained and companies look to increase their competitiveness for resources, it is likely that some of these (or perks similar to them) will make their way into the “offer-package” for gig jobs as well.

This all sounds pretty good, but if you are on the wrong end of the skills gap, this blog post may ring hollow. It is a difficult position to be in when you no longer have what companies are asking for… but people who choose to make their career in the tech-industry understand that life-long learning and re-training is a necessary part of keeping relevant. And, as mentioned above, companies will begin to hire people based on their aptitude and core-skills and train the rest. Keeping up with your networking, building relationships with multiple recruiters, and staying “in the loop” will also be critical to maximizing your exposure to new opportunities.

By embracing change and closely following the latest tech-trends, a career in technology will be rewarding and, with long-term labour supply constraints, you may find more opportunities for meaningful work and an environment that really fits your personal and professional needs. The future is bright — there may never have been a better time to be a contactor!

Regional Job Market Update for Calgary, Alberta (January 2020)

Kelly Benson By Kelly Benson,
Branch Manager at Eagle

Regional Job Market Update for Calgary, Alberta

While the employment numbers were relatively strong across the country in 2019, Calgary’s recovery remains frustratingly slow.  Our city still faces many of the same challenges with low oil prices, limited markets for our resources, low consumer spending and too high unemployment rates.  The good news in all of this is that many of our clients are now focused on looking forward with an optimistic belief that the biggest challenges are now behind us.

We are so used to hearing about all the things that are not going well, that it often puts a damper on the things that are going well.  When we look for positive narrative, we see a lot of great things happening in our city and much of the positive news is in the IT and Tech space:

Tech job activity has been steadily increasing over the past few years and a lot of that is being driven by a shift to digital.  With digital transformation, the definition of a career in IT is also shifting.  The result is that tech jobs are on the rise and we continue to see demand increasing for tech roles in non-tech companies.  Afterall, the banks no longer employ primarily bankers and energy companies employ far more than just geoscientists.

No longer do we only think of the big tech companies when we think of Data Engineers and Software Developers. More and more of our big corporate clients are developing their own internal Innovation Labs where they are experimenting with leading-edge technology including Advanced Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain.

The biggest challenge for business in Calgary is that the demand for good tech talent is high.  Many of our largest clients are embarking on similar journeys at the same time, which is creating temporary skills shortages.  Because Calgary lagged other markets in new technology adoption, the availability of talent experienced in the newer technology is lagging and we are being forced to look for talent outside the city to get access to certain expertise more often than we would like.

At Eagle, we have seen demand for IT talent steadily increasing over the past year that is combined with a steady decrease in the number of active job seekers applying for roles.  More work available.  Less people to do that work.  Doesn’t that sound like a good problem to have?  It depends who you ask!  The talent supply and demand gap is getting wider and is a top concern for executives.

Where is the current demand in Calgary?

  • SAP S/4HANA
  • Data Analytics/Data Engineering
  • Data Science
  • Development – Java (React/Angular/Node)
  • ServiceNow
  • Cloud expertise–AWS, Azure

The Growing Skills Gap, The Pace of Change… and the Critical Importance of Chosen Assignments

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President Strategic Accounts & Client Solutions, Western Canada at Eagle

The Growing Skills Gap, The Pace of Change… and the Critical Importance of Chosen Assignments

There are several factors that work together to create a “skills gap” within the labour market in Canada (and worldwide for that matter). Local gaps can occur in any market based on competing projects using similar technology that eat up available resources; or, perhaps, a company wants to try something new-to-the-region and existing tech-professionals just don’t exist in that location. These gaps happen all the time and are, typically, short-lived as labour is quite mobile. However, our industry is noting a growing technological skills gap in general. This is across multiple regions and, in fact, around the globe. The aging workforce (baby boomers retiring or about to retire) – coupled with – too few young people to replace them – coupled with – not enough students taking the STEM education needed to fill new roles -coupled with – an explosion in tech-related jobs… all work together as a “perfect storm” to create a growing and pervasive technology skills gap.

But there is still another reason, one that I wish to highlight, and it is one that effects many contractors and consultants: The pace of change in technology. Technological change has never been faster. There are a multitude of new technologies that didn’t exist even a few years ago. And there are more areas of specialization/differentiation within the tech industry than ever before as both the breadth and the complexity of technology increases. It has gotten to the point that people either can’t keep up or don’t wish to keep up anymore. After all, there is just so much change that people are willing to tolerate. And when someone learns and masters a new skill, they want to reap the return on their investment of time and money vs. immediately throwing more time and money into learning something else. Most people who choose to make technology the foundation for their profession understand that life-long learning is a must. But as mentioned above there is always a limit… whether it be physical, mental or financial, exhaustion will always catch up.

For the consulting industry, this is both a blessing and a curse. “Where there is confusion there is profit… for the wise [person]”… new and unfamiliar tech keeps both demand and rates high. But it is also very easy to become out-of-touch or even obsolete. In Calgary, when the O&G industry turned around a few years back, many IT contractors found themselves out of work or they took lesser level roles to keep working through the economic downturn. When the market began to come back a year-and-a-half to two-years later, there was a surprise that we did not expect. While many people’s professional development went on hold for this time, technological advancement didn’t wane. We discovered that a skills gap had developed… and the skills/experience that employers were wanting, few local people had. It was a scramble for the local market to re-tool, re-educate and come up to speed on these newer technologies.

The lesson (or one of the lessons) in all this, for IT consultants/contractors, is in understanding the importance of the work that you choose. By carefully choosing your next project, one that leverages leading edge application of technology – in an area where you wish to grow and develop – you are able to keep your skills current. Through great projects, you continue to build your resume remaining relevant and highly employable. Given the reality of a growing global skills gap, contractor rates will be strong… as such, I believe that the kind of project, the nature of the work and the technology stack to be leveraged will become even more strategically important to contactors when evaluating and choosing new assignments.