Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Trends

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

Contractor Quick Poll: How do you prefer to get across town?

Technology has brought us options across all areas of life and transportation is no different.  Traditional taxis and public transportation have been options in our cities for as long as anybody currently in the workforce can remember. Then, five years ago, Uber changed the game when it launched its ride-sharing program in Canada. Since then, Lyft also added to the competition by setting up in some of the country’s major cities.

While Uber and Lyft provide a convenient, often lower-cost service, some people still prefer the security of a cab (especially since the competition have forced them to improve their service). And others are content paying much lower prices and riding the bus, train or streetcar to get from place-to-place.

In this month’s contractor quick poll, we want to know your preference. When your own car or bike is not an option, your destination is beyond walking distance and there is no friend who can drive you, who do you pay to get you there?

Regional Job Market Update for Montreal, Quebec

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice President, East Region & Government Services at Eagle

After some sluggish months for the Canadian economy, April saw record numbers of jobs created not seen since 1976 with 106,000 new jobs, far exceeding economists’ expectations. Canada added over 426,000 jobs in the last 12 months and though many had forecast an imminent recession, it now appears that may not be in the cards. Perhaps more indicative of a better economy is a stronger wage growth component of 2.5% increase. Perhaps salaries are finally catching up with the increase in jobs and we’re seeing the effects of an overall tightening labour market.

Panoramic Photo Montreal city fron Mount RoyalAs we look at the Quebec Employment numbers, we confirm what we have seen both operationally and practically in the market. Quebec continues its run of strong labour numbers with the second lowest unemployment rate in the country (second only to BC provincially) and, at 4.9%, it’s over a full point lower than neighboring Ontario. Montreal continues to have a lower rate of unemployment than Toronto. Drilling down further, we know that the National rate of unemployment for technology hovers at less than half the broader rate, at slightly above 2%. However, in Technology Urban Centres like Montreal with a burgeoning Video game sector, AI sector and Financial sector it is likely very close to 0% which is what we at Eagle are currently seeing play out in the marketplace.

Canada has bet big on AI with centres in Toronto and Edmonton but Montreal also has a thriving and burgeoning AI ecosystem. In addition to the Federal funding in AI investment, the city benefits from a huge Province of Quebec investment, similar to what the Province  invested in attracting big video gaming players to Montreal. Swedish giant Ericsson, French Tech Consultancy Axionable and Samsung are just some the global giants to have recently opened AI accelerator/Labs in the city of Montreal. In addition to Montreal already being a North American gaming hub, clearly it is becoming an AI hub as well. Over the past couple of years, global behemoths Google, Facebook and Microsoft have set up shop in Montreal in the hopes of taking advantage of the much sought after talent developed as a result of these new thriving hubs and tech ecosysytems.

Traditional sectors such as Telecom, Financial Services and Aerospace who are already fighting to attract the talent they need now have to out-hustle these “sexy ” giants of tech industry. Talent in Montreal have multiple options and clients now need to be certain they are quick to hire, have compelling stories to sell, competitive salaries and are working hand-in-hand with their talent partners in what is now a very heated market.

Hot roles in Montreal include Mobile Developers, DevOps/Middleware, BI Specialists, Security Specialists and all things Java.

IT Industry News for May 2019

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

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on May 3rd, 2019

This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for April 2019.

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 Aprils …

The apple logo and apple with a bite out of itFive years ago, in April 2014 Microsoft officially entered the handset business with the completion of the $7.5 billion purchase of Nokia’s devices business.  Zebra Technologies paid $3.5 billion for Motorola’s unit that makes mobile devices for business which is a move in the ever-expanding Internet of Things space. Apple paid $479 million purchase of the LCD chip development unit of Renesas Electronics.  IBM snapped up marketing automation software company Silverpop Systems and open source software company Red Hat paid $175 million for storage company Inktank.

In April 2015 Nokia was the biggest story, paying $16.5 billion for telecom company Alcatel-Lucent, but there was also a $4 billion deal that saw Capgemini buy services firm IGATE and LinkedIn made its largest acquisition ever, paying $1.5 billion for training portal Lynda.com.  LinkedIn also bought a predictive insights startup company, Refresh.  Netsuite paid $200 million for ERP and commerce software company Bronto Software and Blackberry reputedly shelled out $150 million for file sharing security company Watchdox.  Salesforce was also out shopping, picking up mobile two-factor authentication startup, Toopher.  In another deal involving billions, Informatica decided to follow in DELL’s footsteps and go private for a $5.3 billion price tag.

Bell logoApril 2016 saw some big deals, the biggest was Bell’s $3.8 billion bid for Manitoba Telephone System, which closed in 2017.  Other large deal saw a Chinese conglomerate bid $3.6 billion for Lexmark; and Plantronics shell out $2 billion for Polycom.  Oracle paid $663 million for cloud based construction software company Textura.  Nokia, who were also in the news announcing layoffs, and continued to evolve their business model, this time into the wearable tech arena with the $192 million purchase of Withings.  Other deals saw Autodesk acquire 3D animation software company Solid Angle; and Dimension Data bought Toronto based cloud services company Ceryx.

ACCENTURE LOGOTwo years ago in April 2017 Microsoft bought Israeli cloud-monitoring and analytics startup, Cloudyn. Flipkart, one of India’s larger ecommerce companies, acquired the Indian division of eBay (eBay.in) as part of eBay’s $500 million investment in Flipkart. VMware’s vCloud Air unit was acquired by OVH, a French hosting and cloud company. Global professional services provider, Accenture, purchased the UK-based automation services provider, Genfour. Toronto-based startup, Turnstyle Analytics, was acquired by Yelp for $20 million. California-based Coupa Software purchased Swedish software company, Trade Extensions for $45 million. Montreal-based financial technology provider, Alithya acquired big data solution provider, Systemware Innovation Corporation.

Mitel LogoLast year April 2018 was not super busy on the M&A front although there were a few deals, including a $2 billion purchase of Ottawa based Mitel by Searchlight Partners, who will take the company private.  Mobile payments company Square paid $365 million for website company Weebly; iconic photo site Flickr has been bought by SmugMug; Adobe acquired AI startup Uru; Indeed bought Canadian jobs site Workopolis; and HPE Pointnext bought Redpixie. 

Which brings us back to the present …

Intel logoApril 2019 was an extremely slow M&A month with just two deals hitting my radar.  Intel bought Omnitek, a company that produces programmable chips for the video space.   This comes as Intel announced it was exiting the 5G modem space for smartphones, suggesting it was not a profitable business for them.  The other deal saw the merger of two large US based MSPs, as Corsica bought EDTS to compete at the next level.

Microsoft logoAnother company in the press this month was Microsoft, who reached that magic valuation point of $1 trillion, becoming the third company to hit hat milestone after Apple and Amazon.

The general economic news was positive with the US continuing to soar with very low unemployment, rising wage rates, an annualised GDP growth rate of 3.2% in the first quarter all suggesting the US boom will continue for a while yet.  Canada continus its anemic growth rate, projected at 1.2% this year.  Around the world unemployment is generally down except for pockets like the UK where the Brexit situation continues to be a mill stone around their necks.

Technology Trends from the 2019 Stack Overflow Developer Survey

Every year, Stack Overflow surveys tens of thousands of developers around the world to understand how they work, what technologies they use and some other fun facts. The complete report is packed with overwhelming amounts of data that offers something for everybody.

Blockchain is one tech trend the world loves to follow these days and Stack Overflow asked developers their opinions on it. The technology has been making headlines for the last few years but still not necessarily finding its place in the mainstream. The results saw that 80% of organizations are not using Blockchain at all and developers have mixed reviews on how it can be used in the future. Sure, two-thirds of the respondents said Blockchain can be useful in various aspects, but 16.8% say it is a passing fad and 15.6% believe that Blockchain is an irresponsible use of resources.

Expectedly, as they do every year, Stack Overflow used the opportunity to learn about the most popular, loved, hated and wanted technologies. The charts are long and filled with data, so we summarized the findings in the tables below:

Programming, Scripting and Markup Languages
It’s no surprise that JavaScript continues to rank at the top of the list of most popular languages and Stack Overflow pointed out that Python continues to be the fastest growing language — also no surprise. If you want to get paid more, it’s clear that you’re going to have to work with some of the less popular languages. The good news is there are a few languages in the “Most Loved” column and only one in the “Most Dreaded” column (sorry Erlang).
Web Frameworks
For the first time this year, Stack Overflow asked about frameworks for the web separately from other frameworks and libraries. jQuery is the most broadly used. It’s also interesting to note that the results in the tables only represent responses by professional developers and when all developers were surveyed, React.js actually ranked higher than Angular.js in popularity.
Other Frameworks, Libraries and Tools
Although they didn’t make the top 5, more developers did say they use the deep learning framework TensorFlow more than Torch/PyTorch. Interestingly, Torch/PyTorch is more loved than TensorFlow, but TensorFlow is one of the “Most Wanted” (developers who do not yet use it but say they want to learn it).
Databases
As expected, MySQL remains the most popular database used among developers and, for the third year in a row, Redis took the top spot in the Most Loved category and MongoDB clinched #1 in Most Wanted.
Platforms
New this year, Stack Overflow asked developers about container technologies and Docker turned out to be the third most broadly used platform, second most loved and first most wanted.
Developer Environments
When it comes to Developer environments, it’s clear that Visual Studio Code takes the cake, specifically among Web Developers, DevOps and SREs. It ranks the second most popular among Mobile Developers, who are slightly more likely to choose Android Studio.

The survey report contains loads more information around technology trends and predictions by developers. Some are obvious (more developers use Windows as their primary operating systems), some facts are fun but useless (30% believe Elon Musk will be this year’s most influential person in tech) and some are super detailed (you can dive much deeper into the stats summarized in the tables above). If you’re interested or have some extra time, check out the complete report to see all of the data for yourself.

Jaw-Dropping Data Breach Stats for 2019

Data breaches are detrimental to a company. Setting aside the reputation damage that comes with them, the harm done to customers plus the impending legal battles that follow have cost millions and sometimes billions of dollars for organizations that were presumed to be secure. In today’s world where hacking is a sport with a lucrative pay-out, cybersecurity experts are in high demand.

Varonis recently sourced a list of 56 data breach statistics, including risks, costs and prevention tips. Along with the list came this infographic that highlights the most interesting and helpful stats. Have a look for some eye-opening facts that will make you think twice the next time you’re entering personal information into a field.

Regional Job Market Update for British Columbia (April 2019)

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

Current economic forecasts for BC are a bit of a mixed bag. Most economists are predicting an economic slowdown over the next three years, according to a report released Thursday by credit union Central 1. The report specifically references the housing market downturn impacting GDP growth in BC.

Vancouver SkylineIt is expected that the resultant drop in demand and prices will trigger a sharp contraction in housing construction and reduced condominium pre-sale activity which will result in “the most pronounced drop in broader residential development since 2009.”

At the same time, another credit rating agency, the Domestic Bond Rating Service (DBRS Ltd.), confirmed the provinc’s long-term debt rating at AA (high) and the short-term debt rating R-1 (high). DBRS Ltd. stated in a news release “The ratings remain well supported by the province’s diverse and growing economy, positive outlook, ample fiscal capacity and low debt burden.”

DBRS’s rating comes after the international credit rating agency Moody’s confirmed in January its AAA rating of B.C., making it the only province in Canada to be rated triple A by all three international credit rating agencies (Moody’s, Standard and Poor and Fitch).

Another bright spot is an expected uptick in capital investment, including LNG projects which should drive associated construction and infrastructure projects. Is a pipeline in the future? With a new government in Alberta, expect that conversation to heat up quickly. And with the aforementioned triple A rating, the cost to borrow remains attractive which should continue investment in BCs infrastructure and public services.

So what does that mean for you as an IT professional?

It should mean that things will not change all that much. The very low unemployment rates in the province and even lower rates for information technology should be considered positive factors for opportunity. BC remains an attractive location for business and a cooling, more reasonable housing sector should, in theory, correct one of the structural impediments to attracting talent. Public sector spending shows no sign of weakening as municipal and provincial governments respond to demand from their constituents for new and better servicing. In fact, the healthcare sector in particular is experiencing massive transformation and this is driving a need for project specialists.

If you have specific experience with Cerner or other large Electronic Health Records packages, you’ve probably noticed that you are in demand and you’re probably shutting down LinkedIn in an effort to get away from recruiters and headhunters who are trying to connect with you.

But it’s not just specialist skills that are in demand. These projects are large and touch so many aspects of an organization that we are seeing requirements for all skillsets including the pillars of any initiative, Project Managers, Business Analysts, Architects, Developers and Testers. And as with any transformative work, we’ve seen a large uptick in the demand for Change Managers and Organizational Change Managers.

The one downside to these opportunities is often the mandatory requirement that candidates have previous clinical or healthcare experience. The question our recruiters are most often asked by clearly frustrated candidates is “How do I get experience in healthcare, if they won’t hire me because I lack healthcare experience?” The first step is to get an understanding of the types of technologies and software used throughout the industry (ex. Cerner), and determine if your current skills or toolset are transferable. If not, you may need further training or experience. But in the meantime, you can certainly use that knowledge to craft your selling message to recruiters and hiring managers.

What’s hot besides healthcare?

Large scale infrastructure projects continue to need resources for anything from basic, but urgent, Windows upgrades to very large deployments of hardware and software. And on the application development side, it depends on what you are programming for. Microsoft still controls a large portion of our corporate client’s landscape and we continue to see a need for .Net programmers. But full stack, mobile and web developers who have worked with Java or JavaScript related tools such as Node.js, Angular or React will also find a pretty healthy demand for their skills.

And the cloud continues to drive demand for infrastructure specialists and integration experts who can get “on premise” and cloud systems talking to each other.

As I’ve mentioned before, if any of this is familiar to you and your area of expertise, you should feel pretty good about your employment or engagement opportunities in BC. The public sector and crown corporations are robust. Work, especially in the health sector, has exploded and there is no reason to believe it will slow down. The private sector has a good mix of large, traditional corporations delivering products and services along with a steady influx of startup and app centric software shops. All in all, BC currently offers lots of opportunity but as always in Information Technology, having a bit of a specialization will help open doors.

IT Industry News for March 2019

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

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on April 1, 2019

Tech News Header This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for March 2019

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 March in previous years … Facebook logoFive years ago in March 2014 Facebook made a somewhat surprising $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality company Oculus VR. Intel also expanded its horizons with the $150 million acquisition of smart watch maker, Basis Science. SAP added to its purchasing software suite with the acquisition of Fieldglass and TELUS made a couple of buys, Enode, a management consulting company out of Quebec and Med Access, an addition in British Columbia, to their healthcare division. HP logo

In March 2015 HP paid $3 billion for Aruba Networks; Lexmark paid $1 billion for customer management software company Kofax; eCommerce company Rakuten paid $410 million for ebook marketplace Overdrive; Cheetah Mobile paid $58 million for mobile ad network MobPartner; TeraGo Networks paid $33 million for cloud provider RackForce; IBM bought natural language and image processing company AlchemyAPI; and in the cable TV world Charter Communications paid $10.4 billion for Bright House Networks.

dell logoMarch 2016 saw the $3 billion sale of Dell Services to NTT, a direct result of Dell’s restructuring following the recent purchase of EMC. IBM was out bolstering its services business with a couple of acquisitions; the first was Optevia, a UK-based integrator focused on Microsoft Dynamics; and the second was Bluewolf Group, a global Salesforce consulting partner. Montreal-based Yellow Pages picked up Toronto-based Juice Mobile, primarily for its mobile marketing capability. Another Toronto company, Influitive, raised some cash ($8.2 million) and bought a couple of mobile app companies, Ironark Software and Triggerfox; and Netsuite bought IOity solutions, a cloud-based manufacturing software company. Amazon Web Services

Two years ago, in March 2017 Intel bought Israeli computer vision company, Mobileye, for a hefty $15.3 billion. HPE bought storage solution provider, Nimble, for $1 billion. Amazon Web Services, a public cloud infrastructure provider, acquired Thinkbox Software, a company that provides software for managing media rendering workloads. Mozilla acquired Pocket, a startup that developed an app for saving articles and other content.

Salesforce logoIn March 2018 there was a significant amount of M&A activity.  The deal of the month saw Salesforce pay $6.5 Billion for cloud integration company Mulesoft.  Plantronics paid $2 Billion for unified communications company Polycom; and Amazon paid $1 Billion for smart home company Ring.  Other deals saw eBay shell out $700 million for the commerce platform Qoo10; Cognizant buy Bolder Healthcare Solutions; HPE Aruba buy Cape Networks; VMWare buy security company, E8; and Deloitte pick up API Talent in New Zealand.  It is also nice to see Avaya buying Spoken Communications after leaving Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Which brings us back to the present …

The apple logo and apple with a bite out of itIn March 2019, the big deal of the month saw Nvidia shell out $6.9 billion for data centre solutions vendor, Mellanox.  F5 Networks paid $670 million for up and coming competitor NGINX; and Juniper Networks paid $40 million for AI startup Mist Systems.  Some other deals this month were Apple’s acquisition of machine learning startup LaserLike; Veritas’ acquisition of analytics company Aptare; Mastercard bought security company Ethoca; and Spotify added to its podcast capability with the purchase of Parcast.

Other companies in the news included Lyft, which was the first of several high-profile tech companies with planned IPOs in 2019; SAP who announced a major round of layoffs and SAS who joined the growing number of companies investing big in AI, announcing a $1billion investment. 

The University of Toronto received a $100 million donation (largest ever) from power couple, Heather Reisman (Indigo) and Gerry Schwartz (Onyx), to build an innovation centre.

In economic news around the world, Brexit continues to dominate news and the economy in the UK and not in a good way.  Around the world, economic news was generally relatively positive, although things are slowing down and forecast GDP growth in the US and Canada has been downgraded for 2019.

That is my 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 just about a month, until then … walk fast and smile!

Quick Poll Results: Are IT Professionals Concerned with Digital Security?

With the growing concern about privacy and security in today’s technology, we decided to turn to our network of technology experts to find out how serious they perceive the threat to actually be. Last month’s contractor quick poll asked how concerned you are with all of these breaches and hacks, and if you believe we all need to start being more vigilant online.

After a month of being published, we’ve had a number of responses and they’re still coming in. At this point, here’s what people are saying. Where do you fall on the spectrum?

How concerned are you about digital privacy and security?

If (When?) Facebook Falls, What Will Replace It?

Facebook celebrated its 15-year anniversary earlier this year. On top of the company’s obvious success and growth, it has also received its share of bad press. Especially in recent years, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have been on the defence in security and privacy debates with some of the highest courts in the world. This leaves the world curious to find out what the future of Facebook will hold and, if it fades away, what will replace the social media phenomenon?

This video from The Economist takes a stab at answering those questions. It suggests that platforms like Mastaton (which is open source and community run) or Blockstack (a platform based on Blockchain) are both contenders for beating out the behemoth that is Facebook.

Job Market Update Across Canada

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

Here’s a look at Canada’s job outlook, specifically for IT, as we finish up the first quarter of 2019.

Canadian Job MarketThere 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.  For this purpose I focus on the TSX.  The markets have been fairly volatile for some time now, but The TSX was sitting at 16,000 at time of writing.  This is not that different from this time a year ago, although we have seen some wide swings during that time.  The relative stability of the economy here is always a good factor when looking for employment.

Obviously the unemployment rate is a decent indicator and at 5.8%, the job situation is fairly positive.  This indicator would also suggest unemployment in the skilled, in demand professions is probably 50% of that number … which at less than 3% is effectively full employment.  Canada has created 370,000 jobs (270,000 full time) in the last twelve months, which is not at the pace of the US, but is still a healthy growth, particularly since 270,000 of those were full time jobs.  In a tale of two provinces Ontario has seen the strongest growth in employment in the last few months, whereas Alberta has struggled and has an unemployment rate of 7.3% primarily due to a hurting oil patch.

Some stats worth noting when looking at the job situation in Canada; the biggest 4 provinces represent close to 90% of employment in Canada, with Ontario the largest (close to 40%); Quebec (approx. 23%); BC (13.5%) and Alberta (12.5%).  BC has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada (4.5%), with Newfoundland & Labrador the highest (11.8%); Quebec and Manitoba enjoy good unemployment rates (5.3%); Ontario has a respectable 5.7% rate.  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.

One of the big factors affecting the Alberta market is the price of oil.   The price of a barrel in Canada is probably $10 a barrel less than on the world market, given our only customer is the United States.  Until there is a clear change that will likely remain a factor in Alberta’s economy.  The current price in Canada of less than $60 a barrel, coupled with the barriers presented by the Federal Government and other governments means that investment in the Canadian oil industry is significantly reduced which would suggest it will be some time before we see a boom in employment in that sector.  Having said that there are still opportunities in Alberta, just not the booming demand we saw in the past.

Google LogoThe continued growth in the US market has led to skills shortages, and significant cost increases for companies with large workforces.  This has created an opportunity in Canada, where large US companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google etc. are adding to their Canadian presence to tap into the talent up here.  We have seen big announcements in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto in recent months and I expect this trend to continue.

If there is one market to highlight it is the Toronto area, which is Canada’s largest market, the fourth largest city in North America and home to more head offices than any other city in Canada.  The financial sector is largely headquartered here and is a huge employer, as is the telecommunications industry.  The GTA represents 60% of Eagle’s business and probably 60% of tech jobs in Canada.

Tech job activity is relatively strong in most markets across Canada.  Even Calgary, which has not returned to pre-oil crisis levels of activity is seeing some demand.  This makes sense if you recognize that even at a 7.3% unemployment rate that probably represents a less than 4% unemployment among professionals and in-demand skills.

Eagle’s focus is technology professionals and the most in demand areas/skills recently have included: Cloud, Healthcare, Government, Telecom, Banking, CRM, BI and AI; Project Managers, Business Analysts, Change Management, Quality Assurance, Architects, Sys Admins, Full Stack developers, Database Admins & Dev Ops engineers.

In summary, people with tech skills should have little difficulty in finding employment, either contract or perm for the foreseeable future.  A willingness to relocate to the bigger centers will only increase their marketability.

There is continued concern about an economic slowdown, which will of course affect hiring.  In the short to medium term I don’t expect a big change in the job market.  Perhaps as the election approaches in the fall we will see some impact.

Our advice to clients is to ensure there are clear, clean hiring practices that move quickly through the hiring process.  It is a candidate market again and that means the best talent is snapped up quickly, often with multiple offers.