Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Trends

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to trends.

Quick Poll Results: How do independent contractors waste time?

Last month’s contractor quick poll followed up on an article that had been published about how people waste their time. Some of the results were surprising and we were curious to know how they compared to independent contractors. Do our readers consider their biggest time sucks to be leisure-related, such as TV, gaming or social media, or more work related, such as commuting or meetings?  Alternatively, the poll also included an open-ended response in case there was a new time waster that the Entrepreneur article hadn’t touched (the most popular one related to reading through useless emails).

The results are in and, as usual, we’re sharing them below. It seems that useless meetings and mobile devices take the cake on time wasters. Are you surprised by what others had to say? Can you eliminate some of the places you’re wasting too much time? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Quick Poll Results: How do contractors waste time?

How to Create (and remember) the Perfect Password

How many logins do you have? We’re bombarded with online accounts where we need to create a username and password every day. The result is using the exact same, terrible password in hopes that we’ll remember it. As an IT professional, you already know this is terrible practice, but so many are still using the old “Password123” security method.

Perhaps that one-off account you created to leave a comment on a blog wasn’t all that important, but you do need to place priority on strong passwords for websites like banking and email. This infographic from WhoIsHostingThis provides rules for a strong password (you’ve seen them all before) AND it provides some tips on remember and managing your passwords.

How to Create the Perfect Password - Via Who Is Hosting This: The Blog

Source: WhoIsHostingThis.com

Quarterly Job Market Update Across Canada for Q2 2017

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

General Observations About the Canadian Job Market

Canadian Job Market Quarterly Update Across Canada

The unemployment rate at the end of the first quarter was 6.5%, an improvement over the 6.7% unemployment rate at the end of the last quarter.  During the previous 12 months, Canada added 351,000 jobs (almost 250,000 full time).

For the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX and during the second quarter it slipped about 400 points from 15,600 to around 15,200.

Oil CanThe oil patch continues to struggle, and while the price of a barrel has been in and around the $50 a barrel range, it actually finished the second quarter down in the $45 range.  The foreign investment money that exited the Canadian oil patch is unlikely to return unless there is a significant shift in political support for this sector.  Even the approval of some pipelines has not generated the positive job impact it might have done a couple of years ago.

Canadian DollarThe Canadian dollar had seemed to be settled around the 75c US level, but during Q2 edged up to 77c. (It should be noted that post Q2 an interest rate increase has driven the Canadian dollar even higher.  It remains to be seen whether the increased cost of borrowing will have a negative impact on the Canadian economy.)

There is little change in the banking sector, which is one of the bigger employers in Canada.  The talent demands for the banks address areas such as regulatory changes, new product development, new service offerings and addressing the aging workforce.  On the other side, new technology and offerings also displaces some of the roles traditionally found at the banks.  The banks remain a good place to find employment, but increasingly the skills needed are specialised.

Telecommunications

The telecommunications sector is another large employer in Canada.  Like the banks, this sector is operating in an environment affected by new technological change, demographic pressures and regulatory change in addition to extreme competition.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they 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 in significant numbers, averaging more than 200,000 jobs a month over the last quarter.  The demand for skills in the US is luring talent from Canada which is good for the individuals but not so good for Canada in the long term.

The demand for the “trades” continues unabated, as the construction industry seems to be forever busy.  Cranes dot the skies of Canada’s largest cities, and home renovation projects are hard to staff!

The three levels of government in Canada are big employers.  Municipal, provincial and Federal governments employ a lot of people.  Under the current Liberal administration the Federal workforce has grown significantly, with about 150,000 employees.   All levels of government are dealing with the issue of retiring “boomers”, among the executive ranks in particular.   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 the second quarter was 110, which was unchanged from the first quarter.  The reading is not adjusted and so is affected by number of available working hours etc.  Having said that, the indication is a positive one.

Eagle LogoHere at Eagle, we experienced consistent demand from our clients in the the first six months of 2017.  This is a positive indicator given that demand represents a 25% increase in demand over the fourth quarter of 2016. Eagle did see a big increase in people looking for work in the first quarter (20%) and the second quarter saw another increase of 16%.  There could be many factors at play, but one that we are seeing is both an increased demand for contract talent and an increased interest in the gig economy by professionals.

Regional Job Markets Across Canada

TorontoThe Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is Eagle’s busiest region, representing about 60% of our business.  It is also 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 continues to be one of the busiest markets in Canada, and we see strong demand from our clients for skilled talent.  There is some concern that new legislation from the Ontario Government (Bill 148) will have a negative effect on the temporary help market in particular.

CalgaryWestern Canada continues to be most impacted by the woes in the oil patch, but there are some positive indicators.  The oil patch has settled into its “new normal” and continues to employ a lot of people, albeit nowhere near the highs of the boom times.  The various levels of government are working hard to replace some of those jobs by attracting new industries, such as technology companies, offering educated and affordable workforces, especially compared to Silicon Valley and more affordable and yet attractive lifestyles. The Conference Board expects Alberta to be the fastest growing province in Canada for 2017.  The BC housing market has been affected by recently introduced legislation to curb foreign investment and a minority government will mean less affective decision making and an uncertain economy.

OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”.  Ottawa is very much a government town again, although there are some smaller tech companies rising from the ashes of Nortel, JDS and the previously large tech sector. The government continues to employ a lot of people (22,000 more in The NCR since the Liberal government took office) but the unemployment rate in Ottawa rose steadily in the second quarter. Quebec leads the country in job gains, and have improved their unemployment rate to 6% and added 122,000 jobs in the last 12 months.  The Maritime Provinces continue to struggle to create employment and we don’t expect much change there.

Top Skills Demanded from Eagle’s Clients

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. Digital, big data, data scientists, 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.

Outside of Eagle’s realm some of the in-demand skills include the classic tradespeople, drivers, and new tech skills like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, video gaming skills etc.

Summary

Canada added 351,000 jobs in the last year which is good news for today’s job seekers.  Forecasters are optimistic for the next twelve months, in fact the Bank of Canada just raised interest rates sparking a recovery for the Canadian dollar.  If we can keep new legislation (CASL at the Federal level, and Bill 148 in Ontario would be just two examples) from hurting job growth then we should enjoy a period of growth.

For job seekers there are bright spots, caused by demographic shifts (retiring Baby Boomers), jobs moving to Canada from more expensive places like Silicon Valley and companies developing new technologies.  The large employers, such as banking sector, insurance sector, retail sector, telecommunications sector and the construction industry will always require large workforces representing job opportunity. The growth of the “gig economy” creates new opportunities for people to define their own destiny and become mini-entrepreneurs, or build new enterprises.

The effect of US policy changes by the Trump administration remain to be seen.  Having said that, early indicators could see immigration (positive for Canada); trade agreements & protectionist policies (possibly negative for Canada); and defense (possibly negative for Canada) all having some impact.

Job seekers should research and understand the growing sectors and where the in-demand jobs are.  They also need to be willing to go where the work is!  If I was looking for work I would be moving to the larger centres, investing in in-demand skills and increasing my marketability with the right “attitude”.

That was my look at the Canadian job market for the second quarter of 2017 and some of its influences.

The Rise of Chatbots

Artificial intelligence is one of the most exciting innovations in the world today. It is quickly affecting our lives in many ways and defining how we’ll live in the future, but it is in no way “new technology”. For example, did you know that chatbots have been around and have used AI since the 1960s.

This infographic created by Drift digs deep into the history of Chatbots, the different kinds and how they use artificial intelligence. The truth is, some of the early chatbots were pretty useless compared to those we have today, but it is interesting to see how far we’ve come!

Rise of the Chatbots

IT Industry News for June 2017

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000-foot look at events in the ICT industry for June 2017. 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 June in previous years

Five years ago, in June 2012, Microsoft’s $1.2 billion purchase of Yammer was the big deal of the month. Salesforce paid $689 million for Buddy Media; Google reputedly paid $100 million for Meebo; Facebook bought facial recognition company Face.com; and Oracle bought “social intelligence” company Collective Intellect. Another “buy” of interest to us at Eagle was the reputedly 7-figure purchase of Bullhorn by Vista Equity Partners (Bullhorn is Eagle’s front office software).

In June 2013, Salesforce.com purchased marketing technology company ExactTarget for $2.5 billion, which was the big buy of the month. Other acquisitions included Irish mobile company Three’s purchase O2 Ireland for $780 million; SanDisk paid $307 million for SMART Storage Systems; Cisco bought Composite Software for $180 million; IBM bought cloud company SoftLayer Technologies; and Buytopia.ca was on a spree with six acquisitions in that year.

June 2014 included some significant deals announced with Oracle paying $5 billion for Micros Systems; Sandisk paid $1.1 billion for solid state storage company Fusion-io. Google continued its push into home automation, witnessed by its subsidiary Nest paying $550 million for cloud-based home monitoring service Dropcam. Google itself paid $500 million for Skybox Imaging, a satellite maker to enhance the Google Maps capability. Twitter paid $100 million for mobile marketing platform Tap Commerce and Red Hat paid $95 million for eNovance.

In June 2015, Intel paid $16.7 billion for semiconductor company Altera Corp. Cisco paid $635 million for security firm OpenDNS in addition to picking up OpenStack company, PistonCloud Computing. Microsoft bought 6Wunderkinder, maker of task management app Wunderlist; Ricoh Canada bought Graycon Group, a professional services firm headquartered in Calgary; and finally, IBM bought OpenStack company Blue Box Group.

June 2016 was certainly an interesting month, with the Brexit vote upsetting the markets and causing uncertainty that will likely continue for some time yet; and there was plenty of M&A activity. The big deal was undoubtedly the Microsoft purchase of LinkedIn for a whopping $2.6 billion. There were other billion dollar deals that month too, Salesforce paid $2.8 billion for e-commerce platform maker Demandware and Amazon announced an extra $3 billion investment in its India operations. Other significant deals included Daetwyler Holdings AG paying more than $877 million for Raspberry Pi maker Premier Farnell Plc; Red Hat paid $568 million for API management software company 3Scale; and OpenText paid $315 million for HP’s Customer Communication Management products. Other noteworthy deals included an investment group’s purchase of Dell’s software arm; Microsoft bought natural language start up Wand Labs; and Samsung bought cloud computing company Joyent. Also, Google Capital announced its first investment in a public company, investing $46 million in Care.com, an online personal services marketplace platform.

Which brings us back to the present

June 2017

The largest deal of the month was Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion or $42 a share. Westcon-Comstar’s American business is being bought by Synnex for approximately $800 million. US fintech provider, Fiserv purchased British financial services technology firm, Monitise for $88.7 million. Microsoft has purchased Israli cloud startup, Cloudyn, for a price between $50 million and $70 million. Rackspace has acquired TriCore in an effort to increase Rackspace’s business from customers who want help running their critical applications. Ebix Inc. has entered into a joint venture with Essel Group. while acquiring a majority stake in ItzCash for $120 million.

Travis Kalanick, founder and CEO of Uber, resigned due to investor pressure as a result of various scandals and setbacks throughout the organization. Google is being fined $3.575 by the European Commission for breaking antitrust rules.

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 July 2017 industry news in just about a month’s time.

Walk Fast and Smile.

Calgary Economic Development – Efforts to Diversify Making a Difference!

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle

Calgary Economic Development

I thought I’d use this blog entry to give a shout out to the CED (Calgary Economic Development) for the great work they are doing to attract new business to Calgary.  They are a relatively small group of very dedicated and committed people working to make a big impact.  In order to stretch a fixed budget, their marketing plans are lazer-focused and, as it turns out, they are gaining the ears of companies south of the border!

Calgary faces a number of challenges as a result of the changing business dynamics within the global Oil & Gas industry.  These challenges manifest themselves in several ways:

  • Increased unemployment/underemployment in all sectors, but especially in professional STEM positions which are typically higher income (tax paying) positions;
  • Down-town vacancy rates are over 40% by many accounts and this threatens to put additional tax burden on the remaining businesses, making a bad situation worse;
  • Reduced spending by the companies that have been driving our economy produces a trickle-down effect that has impacted small and medium sized businesses as well whether in the Oil Industry or not.

These issues could start a downward spiral if not for the efforts of the CED, other like-minded businesses and the municipal government who are taking this slow-down as an opportunity to attract new businesses across other industries.  Calgary has had some extreme advantages over other North American cities for some time – a young highly-educated workforce; an entrepreneurial spirit second to none; fantastic and reliable infrastructure; and it boasts the most head offices and small businesses per capita in Canada (and being one of Canada’s 5 largest cities is saying something!).  All this, while being a place where people want to work and live (Calgary ranks second of major Canadian cities for healthy lifestyle and life satisfaction according to the Conference Board of Canada).  AND NOW… we have ample (and affordable) downtown office space and available highly motivated and educated workers too.  This is an unprecedented opportunity to bring in new industries.

Rising EconomyThe CED have set targets for themselves based on the goals of increasing levels of employment, filling unused office space and diversification of the local economy.  To accomplish this, they target companies that require knowledge workers and who struggle in their “local” labour market to attract/keep top talent.  Some smaller to medium sized high-tech companies struggle to hire technologists with competition the likes of Google and Apple.  Other US-based companies have hired huge numbers of foreign workers for their expertise in areas such as engineering, software development, and technology hardware; and, with the new Trump administration threatening to “send foreign workers home”, there is an opportunity to potentially move these people lock, stock and barrel to Calgary and continue to have them be productive employees.  Yet other companies are looking for affordable places where people want to work to help start-up companies get a foothold and succeed…  Rocketspace is such a company and is one of the first to commit to opening new offices in Calgary.

After a couple years of economic misery, there is a new “buzz” in Calgary and a new feeling of optimism as the city rebuilds (and rebrands) itself!  New opportunities are coming… as a professional contractor, are you ready for this?  Do you have the right “transferable skills” to take advantage in new industries?  People who have chosen to specialize in Information Technology have embraced the notion of life-long learning and, as such, can and will adapt and pick-up the needed knowledge to enable them to work in any industry.  The following are links to other TDC articles written on the topic of professional development… I hope they share some insights that you will find useful!

Mid-Year Report Card: How do you think AI is performing?

Are you sick of hearing the term “AI” yet? We were told last year that Artificial Intelligence would be the buzz in 2017 and so far we haven’t been let down. From video games to appliances, customer support to virtual assistance, AI remains a hot topic and shows no signs of going anywhere.

At the beginning of the year, Futurism released this infographic forecasting what we could expect throughout 2017. There were many exciting predictions, with perhaps the most promising being the rise in demand for expertise and talent with big data analytics. Now that we’re more than half way through the year, what do you think of the infographic below? Is it accurate or do you think we have a busy second half to meet the predictions?

Mid-Year Report Card: How do you think AI is performing?

Have You Learned Kotlin Yet?

Are you staying up-to-date on the latest skills? Technology changes are always happening and to remain competitive as an IT professional, especially a programmer, you need to stay on top or you risk falling behind.

Kotlin was recently announced as an official language for Android and this infographic from Programiz proves that it’s growing at outstanding rates with plenty of opportunities for programmers. According to their website, Kotlin is concise, easy-to-use, tool-friendly and, above all, safe. Have you become well-versed in it yet?

Kotlin Infographic

BC Technology Jobs Aren’t Only in Vancouver

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

Vancouver Victoria, Canada’s Newest Tech Hub!

Victoria, Canada’s Newest Tech Hub!Who knew? Ask anybody about Silicon Valley North and they will very likely mention Vancouver and the well-established and recently emerging tech sector that is driving a great deal of the city’s business environment. And they wouldn’t be wrong. But Victoria — “home of the newly wed and nearly dead” — is not just managing to sneak into the conversation, they are earning bragging rights of their own with nearly 900 tech companies, 20,000 workers and close to 4 billion generated in economic impact. While they won’t challenge Vancouver when it comes to sheer size and muscle power, Victoria is punching well above its weight.

On a recent trip to the provincial capital, I had the opportunity to speak to a number of clients who talked about the importance of the industry and how it has helped to revitalize the city, including the reestablishment of the downtown core area and the development of tech nodes such as the Vancouver Island Technology Park which shares space with Camosun College and Fort Techtoria. Fort Techtoria is the brainchild of VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council whose stated mission is “to serve as the one-stop hub that connects people, knowledge and resources to grow and promote the Greater Victoria technology sector”. A visit to the webpage gives the following quote from Dan Gunn, Executive Director of VIATEC.

Fort Tectoria Logo“We built Fort Tectoria to support entrepreneurs, creators and innovators throughout Greater Victoria. Much more than just well-appointed offices housing 35 early-stage tech companies on the upper floors, our main floor was designed to provide a gathering place for hackers, makers, movers and shakers to host meetups, workshops, networking sessions and events. We look forward to hearing what you have in mind.”

Why Victoria? A few common themes came to light. First, Victoria isn’t Vancouver. The cost of doing business reflects life in a smaller community. Space is certainly cheaper and workers who can’t afford or are otherwise allergic to the price of real estate in Vancouver, find Victoria to be a bit easier on the paycheck. Accordingly, demand for new office space from within the tech sector has now outpaced government in the downtown core, and interestingly, in a city as old as Victoria, this demand has specifically targeted older character buildings giving new purpose and life to the city’s historical assets. The sense of support in the community was also mentioned. The idea that VIATECH exists to help get industry together to solve problems and share ideas is a powerful magnet for startups and tech enterprises. And what about attracting applicants for work? It is a challenge but the same sense of community, decent weather by Canadian standards and a conglomeration of tech business means the word is getting out and the same workers who may have once targeted Vancouver are now starting to take notice of Victoria.

Are you interested in working on the island? If so, Eagle is always looking for great candidates for a variety of roles with great clients in Victoria.

Here’s How 5G Will Change Your Life

Mobile technology is constantly being updated, and it does not take long for your current phone to go ‘out of style’. So what is the latest news in mobile technology? It’s 5G. This video from Techquickie defines 5G as mainly being built around the idea of connecting devices, and creating a more elaborate mobile network that will be able to handle all of these new connections. It will also allow for faster internet speeds, and ideally allow individuals to be able to use up to one GB/second.

Although it will not be available to the public for quite some time they are looking into doing trials for the 2018 and 2020 Olympic Games, and expect a widespread of 5G in about 2025. Looks like self-driving cars and automated homes are not too far away from being a reality. Let us know if you’re excited for this new 5G update in the comments below!