|By David O’Brien,
Vice-President, Government Services at Eagle
As the Canadian economy continues to sputter and struggle to gain its footing thanks to the sudden and now seemingly here to stay (at least for the mid-term) low oil prices, growth in our economy and job numbers will likely be flat. Most economists would agree that this is the new “reality,” at least for a while, with perhaps slim hopes that the booming American economy, combined with a low Canadian dollar and lower energy costs, other regions and sectors within Canada will bounce and pick up the slack. To date, however, that simply has not been the case.
What, then, is the role of Government and Public Sector as an employer or choice for contractors as we go forward in times like these? In the past during recessionary times, Governments have had to step up and infuse in to the economy while Private Sector resets and re-calibrates.
Let’s look at job creation during this collapse in oil prices where the jobless rate rose from 6.6% to 6.8% from January to February. In the past year, private sector added 28,000 positions while at the same time Public Sector added 43,000 jobs. Looking at February itself, there was a loss of 29,000 Private Sector jobs while 24,000 were added in Public Sector.
As a result, many contractors have been displaced out of resource-based companies and others. So, is it time to reassess your choices as a contractor and get into Public Sector if you have not before?
- Government projects, by their nature, tend to be longer term projects. Hence the average IT contract in Public Sector is longer.
- The Feds, provinces and municipalities all make extensive use of Contractors, especially in IT. With the true cost of hiring full-time employees (ie. pensions, benefits etc ) the model of contractors is very valuable. As a result, there is and will continue to be a lot of opportunity.
- Demographics in Governments see many in Public Sector employees set to retire in droves and opportunities, as a result, will abound.
- If one so desires, it is an excellent way to transition to full time in the Public Sector.
- There is ample opportunity to leverage your experience once you have successfully completed a Government contract; multiple departments within Feds, Provincial and municipal governments all value Public Sector experience.
- Government Security Clearance is a bona fide advantage and added feature to enhance your business as a contractor.
- There is more stability. While projects are subject to rigour, there is not the same “unpredictability” in the Public Sector. Governments do not tend to close branches, get out of business lines or sell divisions abruptly.
- It’s called “Public Service” and, yes, I may be old fashioned but there is pride in committing to and helping Canada be a better place to live!
So if you’re not already considering it, yes now is the time to look at Contracting in the Public Sector. Do you need help making the leap or getting a foot in the door? We’d love to help you. Leave your questions below!