Talent Development Centre

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.

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