|By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle
Cautious optimism. That is how the job market in Calgary might be best described. Eagle has witnessed more new hiring over this past quarter than we’d seen of any previous quarter in the past couple of years. Still at far lower levels than prior to the Oil & Gas meltdown, it represents a marked shift as a broader range of companies have participated in the hiring.
Economists from the National Conference Board and ATB are predicting that a lot of the growth will be seen coming from new, smaller and start-up companies. There certainly appears to be more activity in these areas. As the City has made significant efforts to diversify its corporate company-base, new-to-Calgary and start-up companies are building on their infrastructure. They tend to have fewer requirements than the traditional O&G corporations, but there are more of them. Certainly, a trend to watch over the coming months and years.
Supply of resources available also appears to be returning to normal levels. In March, Eagle’s Calgary office had significantly fewer people apply to online job postings compared to the same period in 2017. Rates have remained stable for quite some time now after having been knocked back due to the local recession.
Top IT Job Titles from this past month include:
- Business Analyst
- Systems Analyst
- Quality Assurance
There hasn’t been too much variability in these top requests over the past months. However, new requests for people with skills in Cloud and Cyber Security have been growing.
One disturbing trend that we have noticed is that there have been fewer contract extensions offered vs. times past. Despite the uptick in new roles coming out, there is trend across the industry seeing a drop in extension rates. The reason for this is not exactly clear but could be a sign that companies are shifting the way they use contingent labour. Certainly, there are more companies that have implemented maximum tenure rules and that may be having an impact as well. But it is something that we plan to follow closely.
What does the future hold? It is still difficult to say with any level of surety. I do expect that new, smaller companies will continue to drive innovation and will be a source of new opportunities here in Calgary. Should some of this pipeline mess be resolved in favor of new capacity, there would likely be a “bounce” in the O&G market, with Oilsands companies, particularly, having some relief. Regardless, it will take some time for local investment by the O&G industry to come back. A lot of investment dollars have been committed to projects (and acquisitions) elsewhere, often south of the border. Clear and decisive government intentions/policy will likely be needed before true confidence returns to this industry.
Has IT contingent labour hiring turned the corner for good? The last 3 months would indicate an improved and sustained hiring environment. But only time will tell if this will be a long-term trend. I expect that until the end of June, at least, there should be stable demand for IT resources. Then the summer months will hit, and all bets are off. Some summers can be very busy, while others are quiet. When we came out of the 2008 – 2009 general recession, the summer was super-busy as people worked hard to make up for lost time. However, that particular slow-down (although sharp and deep) was short in duration. Things bounced back quickly. This time around, we have been dealing with a depressed market for 2+ years, our economic muscles have atrophied, and companies have made structural/fundamental changes to their IT organizations. This makes it difficult to predict whether our local economy continue to drive the need for jobs over the summer months. As time goes on, be sure to watch the Eagle job boards, confer with your recruiter contacts, and keep active in your professional networks to gauge for yourself what is to come.
Best wishes for good business in the upcoming months!