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Quarterly Job Market Update Across Canada for Q2 2017


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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.

Quarterly Job Market Update Across Canada – First Quarter 2017


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

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on April 20th, 2017

Canadian Job MarketGeneral Observations:

The unemployment rate at the end of the first quarter was 6.7%, an improvement over the 6.9% unemployment rate at the end of the last quarter.  During the previous 12 months Canada added 276,000 jobs.

The stock market continues to be relatively volatile, but perhaps that is the new norm.  For the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX and it has enjoyed a reasonable period of growth ending the first quarter of 2017 at around 15,600 points.  This was up slightly from a reading of 15,300 at the end of last quarter.

Oil canThe oil patch has settled a little, but that isn’t a great news story.  With the price of a barrel hovering around the $50 a barrel range there is a still a conservative approach to adding jobs.  There has been some exodus of foreign money from the oil patch, allowing Canadian companies to increase their property holdings.  While in some ways that is good, it is an indicator that the big players are investing their money in more business friendly jurisdictions.  Even the approval of some pipelines has not generated the positive job impact it might have done a couple of years ago.

Canadian dollar the LoonieThe Canadian dollar seems to be settled around the 75c US level for now, which is where it was last quarter.  While there are some small benefits of a weak Canadian dollar, including positive impact on tourism, overall it is a negative for the Canadian economy and thus for job creation.

The banking sector is one of the bigger employers in Canada, and the Canadian banks have fared well this year with their stock prices riding high.  They are also prudent money managers and have been very careful with their hiring.  Areas of growth for the banks have been any area that improves productivity and profitability, including robotics.  In addition risk mitigation in an era of economic uncertainty has created specific demands.

The telecommunications companies are other big employers in Canada and are also very cost conscious.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they too, 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 250,000 jobs a month.  The demand for skills in the US will lure talent from Canada which is good for the individuals but not so good for Canada in the long term.  What has not happened, and is different from previous economic times, is that Canada’s economy has not improved along with US economy, which is one of the indicators of our “new normal” environment.

Construction worker

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 and with the current Federal government it was expected their ranks would grow.  There has been some growth in the Federal payroll, about 40,000 in 2016 but it was expected to be more.  All of these governments are dealing with the issue of a fast retiring upper echelon.  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 first quarter was 110, which was significantly up from last quarter when it was 96.  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 a 25% increase in demand from our clients in the first quarter of 2017 versus the previous quarter, and the demand was about the same as the first quarter of 2016.  We also experienced a 20% increase in people looking for work over the previous quarter and a 16% increase over the same quarter last year.  This would suggest an uptick in activity that is a positive for the economy, if we can keep it going.

 More Specifically:

cn towerThe 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 has remained one of the busier markets in Canada, yet has not been as buoyant as previous years, with banks, telcos and provincial government all just a little slower with their hiring.   We have seen a small increase in demand in the first quarter and anticipate things will pick up as the year progresses.

The Saddledome in CalgaryWestern Canada is of course comprised of the oil patch in Alberta and the rest.  Some provinces have fared better than others, with certainly Alberta taking the brunt of the hit because of its resource based employment.  BC was actually the fastest growing province in Canada in 2016 but with an election coming and legislative interference harming the housing sector, the BC economy has started to slow down.  Saskatchewan has fared better than other provinces with a business friendly government although it too is hit by a decline in oil revenues and is struggling with deficit reduction, so no job boom here. The Conference Board expects Alberta to be the fastest growing province in Canada for 2017 but that remains to be seen as the province is not attracting foreign investment (because of Federal and Provincial government policies) and unemployment remains high.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”.  While there is a better mood amongst the Federal civil service under the Trudeau government, I can’t say that I share their optimism given his focus on anything but job creation.  There has been an increase in Federal government hiring in 2017 with our civil service now employing an extra 23,000 in just the last year (wonder why our taxes are so high?).  Quebec is enjoying low unemployment and continuing to fund new tech growth in the province (wonder where those transfer payments are spent?).  We anticipate that to continue in 2017.  The Maritime Provinces continue to struggle to create employment and we don’t expect much change there.

The Hot Client Demand.

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. Big data, 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 in the trades, a growth in demand skills include the classic tradespeople, drivers, and new tech skills like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, video gaming skills etc.

 Summary:

 There are some positive indicators that would suggest light at the end of the tunnel, but it is early to tell whether that will lead to economic growth.  At a very low growth in GDP, and increasing government debt loads and no clear fiscal policies to help I do not anticipate significant job growth in Canada for a while.

There are however bright spots, caused by demographic shifts (retiring Baby Boomers) and new technologies.  The growth of the “gig economy” creates new opportunities for people to define their own destiny and become mini-entrepreneurs.

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 (possibly negative for Canada) and defense (possibly negative for Canada) all having some impact.

In today’s Canada job seekers need to understand the growing sectors, the in demand jobs and 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 third quarter in 2016 and some of its influences.

US Immigration Policy May Help Canada’s Tech Sector


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

Canadian Maple LeafRecent events both South of the border and across Europe have brought immigration to the front pages as a hot button issue. Undoubtedly it has been a very polarizing social and often disturbing humanitarian issue. But what can we make of the economic and business ramifications for Canada in these changing times?

There is most definitely a labour problem in the entire Canadian economy and one that by all measure is about to get worse. The demographic headwind that we face is a potentially lethal combination of boomers retiring over the next 15 years and an overall aging population not supported by growing birth rates. Economic growth in Canada is inextricably linked to both labour growth and productivity, both of which can be addressed through strategic immigration.

This challenging future that could see more people leaving the workforce than entering in Canada and the structural problems that would entail can be alleviated to some degree by immigration. Canada is not alone in this; in fact, most major economies in the world are facing these kinds of issues. For example, Japan’s economy has stalled as the combination of a low birth rate and very low immigration intake resulted in one of the poorest GDP growth rates of the world’s largest economies.

Canada historically has and will likely always be a leader in helping the world’s most downtrodden and desperate refugees and for that most Canadians are proud. Additionally, how do we also compete to attract in our immigration policy the marketable skills, education and experience that will help boost an economy? These so called Economic immigrants have made up a larger proportion of the immigrant intake for the last decade or so in Canada and will likely remain a focus of immigration policy.

US Immigration Policy May Help Canada's Tech SectorToday, though, with changes in the US landscape as a result of the election of Donald Trump has perhaps led to a very real opportunity for Canada, especially in the Tech sector. Many Silicon Valley based Tech companies have been vocal in their very real concern that the change in US Immigration policy will be very detrimental to them and what they already contend has been a tough struggle for top talent. Foreign workers have been a crucial piece of the Silicon Valley tech skills gap puzzle and with the changes in policy, and perhaps even the heated atmosphere in the US as a result, many skilled tech workers will look to Canada as an option. There are mechanisms in place already such as Canada’s Global Skills Strategy that allow companies to quickly acquire the skills they need on an initial short term basis.

It has always been very tough for Canada’s high tech companies to compete with the allure and frankly other worldly perks and compensation of Silicon Valley but these days perhaps they now have a leg up.

NAFTA Revisions and Technology Workers in the US


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Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

How could trade policy impact Canada’s technology sector?  (A silver lining perhaps?)

NAFTA Revisions and Technology Workers in the USSince Trump’s announcement he will be changing the NAFTA terms, I have had many technology professionals ask my 2 cents about getting or keeping their TN work permit status under NAFTA.  It is too early to tell what changes will be made to NAFTA and the issuance of work permits under various professional categories but one thing is for sure, technology resources are concerned.

The US has had the benefit of NAFTA to hire many of Canada’s top technology talent, especially in Silicon Valley. Many corporations such as Microsoft, Facebook and Google heavily use the TN1 and L1 work permit categories to hire Canadian talent.  Under NAFTA, this was once a fairly straight forward process for technology professionals possessing the right qualifications, but it may become more onerous, highly restrictive and less attractive.

This is bad news for the US technology sector.  In a time of great growth and change, the last thing the sector needs is a government imposing restrictions on hiring technology professionals that are desperately needed.  The tech sector relies heavily on a global talent marketplace to staff projects.  Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor forecast that the US will create some 1.4 million IT jobs by 2020, but US schools will barely be able to fill a third of them.  Technology recruiters turn to Canada as the first place to recruit potential resources due to our common language, culture and schooling.  The recruiters also rely heavily on countries where having a degree in math/computer science is highly valued and youth are heavily encouraged to get into technology.

Is there a silver lining with potential changes to NAFTA and US immigration laws for Canada?  Yes, with uncertainty comes confusion and interest levels working in a country where your worker status is unknown and could change at a moment’s notice, people will rethink the US as a go to for technology jobs.  Canada definitely has the need to take on tens of thousands of new technology professionals.   In a recent Huffington post article, it was noted “Out of 527,000 students who graduated in Canada in 2015, only 6 per cent — 29,000 — graduated from an IT field, the report found. Canada would have to graduate around 43,000 IT students per year to keep up with job growth.”  So, let the hiring begin!!

Over the past decade and a half, Canada’s technology sector has been heavily impacted by the brain drain to the south.  According to a recent CBC post, between 30,000 – 40,000 professionals are working in the US under NAFTA’s TN work permit status.  A large percentage of these professionals are technology professionals.   This number does not also include those who are in the US under other work permit categories. So, needless to say, a lot of top Canadian technology talent is working in the US.

Canada’s technology industry has matured significantly over the past 5 years and many US Tier 1 technology firms have expanded their Canadian footprint.  Canadians working in the US now have more opportunities to find similar work to those located in Silicon Valley.  Canada’s technology sector would more than welcome these resources back to Canada as well as those on the global technology marketplace who no longer see the US a viable place to have a technology career.

Canadian technology CEOs and recruiters should take this opportunity to entice Canadian workers back to Canada.  Time to seize the moment!

Sources & Additional Reading 

Quarterly Job Market Update for Q4 2016


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

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on January 20th, 2017

Canadian Job MarketGeneral Observations: 

From a jobs perspective 2016 finished much as it started, most markets were okay but not great and the oil and gas space was “hurting”.  The oil patch has been hurt not only by the low price of a barrel, but also by the political uncertainty introduced by both provincial and Federal governments that crushes any investment possibilities from private enterprises.  There has been some positive momentum associated with the upcoming Trump presidency, so we shall see how that plays out in the coming months and years.  The Canadian dollar continues to hover around the 75c US mark which makes it more expensive for imports, and Canada imports more than it exports.

The unemployment rate at the end of the year was 6.9%, a slight improvement over the 7% at the end of September, and even better than the 7.1% of this time last year.  During the previous 12 months Canada added 214,000 jobs although the majority of these were part time jobs.

TSXThe stock market continues to be relatively volatile, but perhaps that is the new norm.  For the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX and it has enjoyed a reasonable period of growth over the last year, ending 2016 at around 15,300 points which was currently at around 15,000 points which was more than 200 points better than it ended last year.

picture of an oil rigAs already mentioned the oil patch continues to take a pounding and we don’t anticipate much positive change before 2018.  With oil settling at around $50 a barrel we are not likely to see the start of any major projects although there is some optimism that most of the “bleeding” is done.  Alberta will not attract much private sector investment in the current political climate, particularly when almost any other jurisdiction outside of Canada is more business friendly.

Canadian dollar the LoonieThe Canadian dollar finished 2016 at around 75c US, as opposed to the 70C US it was a year ago.  A weaker dollar is good for the oil patch because they sell in US dollars and most costs are in Canadian dollars.  It is also helpful to our manufacturing sector, because finished goods exported with a weak dollar mean a better profit margin.  However importing raw materials becomes more expensive and generally Canada imports more than it exports so overall a weak Canadian dollar is not good for Canada.

The banking sector is one of the bigger employers in Canada, and the Canadian banks have fared well this year with their stock prices riding high.  They are also prudent money managers and have been very careful with their hiring.  They take full advantage of technology which can mean a reduction is client facing staff as e-banking continues to grow and  even their technology projects have seen very careful hiring this year,

The telecommunications companies are other big employers in Canada and are also very cost conscious.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they too, 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, but at a reduced rate of about 150,000 per month.  The demand for skills in the US will lure talent from Canada which is good for the individuals but not so good for Canada in the long term.  What has not happened, and is different from previous economic times, is that Canada’s economy has not improved along with US economy, which is one of the indicators of our “new normal” environment.

ConstructionThe construction industry seems to be forever busy, to which anyone trying to get work done will attest.  Despite the slowdown in the big jobs like the oil sands, there appears to be a constant demand caused by infrastructure upgrades in many of our cities and we have the promise of more such work funded by our growing national debt (was that my out loud voice?).

Parliament building in OttawaThe three levels of government in Canada are big employers.  Municipal, provincial and Federal governments employ a lot of people and with the current Federal government it was expected their ranks would grow.  There has been some growth in the Federal payroll, about 40,000 in 2016 but it was expected to be more.  All of these governments are dealing with the issue of a fast retiring upper echelon.  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 2016 was 96, as opposed to 98 a year earlier.  While that appears to be a drop, it is in effect negligible because there were less work days in December 2016 than a year earlier.

Eagle LogoHere at Eagle we experienced a 10% drop in demand from our clients in 2016 as opposed to 2015.  We also experienced a 4% increase in people looking for work.  This really tells the tale of the Canadian economy in 2016, there are less jobs and more people looking.   Eagle’s world is primarily in the technology space, and while we expect things to pick up in 2017 we expect to see skills shortages start to add to Canada’s economic problems.

 More Specifically:

cn tower The GTA is Eagle’s busiest region, representing about 60% of our business.  Not surprising given its boast as 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 has remained one of the busier markets in Canada, yet has not been as buoyant as previous years, with banks, telcos and provincial government all just a little slower with their hiring.   We anticipate things to pick up in 2017 and demand for skilled resources to increase substantially.

Eagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”.  While there is a better mood amongst the Federal civil service under the Trudeau government, I can’t say that I share their optimism given his focus on anything but job creation.  We do expect a decent level of demand in the Federal government in 2017, with necessary projects requiring expertise and the steady flow (certainly more than a drip) of talent retiring.  Quebec is enjoying its lowest unemployment rate in some time, and Montreal remains the hub of that activity.  We anticipate that to continue in 2017.  The Maritime Provinces continue to struggle to create employment and we don’t expect much change there.

The Saddledome in CalgaryWestern Canada is of course comprised of the oil patch in Alberta and the rest.  Some provinces have fared better than others, with certainly Alberta taking the brunt of the hit because of its resource based employment.  BC was actually the fastest growing province in Canada in 2016, and Saskatchewan has fared better than other provinces with a business friendly government.  The outlook for Alberta in 2017 is better, but not exciting.  The other provinces should see a reasonable increase in jobs.

The Hot Client Demand.

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. Big data, 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.

 Summary:

The last year was a tough one in the Canadian economy and we will continue to face challenges into 2017, with carbon taxes, a struggling oil patch, a resurgent but protectionist US economy under Donald Trump and a Federal government more interested in the environment, foreign aid, being recognised on the world stage and anything other than creating a business friendly atmosphere in Canada.

On the plus side for job seekers, there will be growth opportunities afforded by a growing number of retirees requiring replacement, and some sectors that will grow … some which we believe will be the telecommunications, technology, construction, government and the financial sector.

That was my look at the Canadian job market for the final quarter in 2016 and some of its influences.

Quarterly Job Market Update Across Canada – July 2016


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

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on July 26th, 2016
Canadian Job MarketGeneral Observations:

There were some positive signs from the second quarter of 2016, but that sentiment by no means suggests it has been a booming market.  Despite some slight increase in oil prices we have seen no positive effect on jobs in the oil patch, and the lack of government support means that confidence in the sector is still low which will result in less potential for investment.  The Fort McMurray fires just “piled misery on” for an already beleaguered province, costing more jobs and lost productivity.  We have not yet seen any stimulus in employment from promised government spending, although it is possible we just haven’t seen it.  The Brexit decision caused ripples in the market, much debate and has had had no impact on employment yet.  It may become an area of opportunity, but that remains to be seen.  The weak dollar has helped some sectors such as the oil patch and the manufacturing sector, plus it is still business as usual for other sectors like the services sector, retail, banking, construction and telecommunications.

The unemployment rate at the end of the second quarter was improved to 6.8% from the Q1 rate of 7.1%.  During the previous 12 months, Canada added 108,000 jobs which was 22,000 less than the 12 months up to last quarter.  It is worth noting that the US continues to add jobs at a rate of 200,000 jobs every month, so we should expect to be adding 20,000 a month to keep pace (so 240,000 jobs in the last 12 months should be an expectation)!

TSXThe stock market continues to be volatile, and had an interesting ride with the Brexit announcement.  Having said that, things have generally settled down in the markets.   I focus on the TSX for this report and it ended Q2 at around 14,100 points which was up about 600 from the end of Q1.

oil rigAs already mentioned the oil patch continues to take a pounding and we don’t anticipate much positive change before 2018.  With oil starting to settle at around $50 a barrel we should see some activity but it will need to settle there for a while before companies act.  Many companies are looking at divesting Canadian assets and investing in other geographies with less opposition and more government support.  Many workers who migrated to the oil patch during the boom have left, and they will be difficult to replace when a recovery does happen.

Canadian dollar the LoonieThe Canadian dollar in comparison to the US dollar is a long way from the days when we flirted with, and passed parity.  At time of writing the dollar is worth about 76c US, which is just a couple of cents weaker than the end of Q1.  The good news is that this helps the oil patch because they sell in US dollars and most costs are in Canadian dollars.  It is also helpful to our manufacturing sector.  Exporters will enjoy favorable pricing too; however, exports have been adversely affected by the economic woes of our trading partners like China.

The banking sector, while a big user of talent and one of the largest employers in Canada is also very careful.  Recent initiatives have seen the banks rationalizing their workforce to ensure they are competitive.  Toronto and Montreal continue to demand talent, just perhaps a little more restrained than in other times.

cell towerThe telecommunications companies are another big employer in Canada and are also very cost conscious.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they are also careful about keeping employment costs under control.  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 recent purchase of Wind by Shaw might increase competition and potentially open up opportunities should all of the regulatory approvals go through.

The US economy has been adding more than 200,000 jobs a month and while there were a couple of slower months in this last quarter, they made up for it in June.  The result is that the US is still adding 200,000 jobs a month on average.  The demand for skills in the US will lure talent from Canada which is good for the individuals but not so good for Canada in the long term.

ConstructionThe construction industry seems to be forever busy, to which anyone trying to get work done will attest.  Despite the slowdown in the big jobs like the oil sands, there appears to be a constant demand caused by infrastructure upgrades in many of our cities and we have the promise of more such work funded by our growing national debt (was that my out loud voice?).  Anecdotally I have seen numerous Alberta plated cars on job sites around the GTA, which supports the theory that many workers have come back from the oil patch and are finding work elsewhere.

The Liberal government has been in place for about nine months and are continuing to both spend and raise taxes.  There are some expected government projects and infrastructure spending initiatives that should benefit the private sector.  In addition, spending in some ministries will be reduced as others benefit from the new agenda.  Some opportunities will be seen in sectors such as health, environment and education.

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 latest score for the Index is 106 in June.  This indicates a 3% month over month increase in demand for labor and a 5% year over year increase.

Eagle LogoHere at Eagle the big impact on our business continues to be the oil patch, but also many clients are taking advantage of a tough economy to look at their cost base.  This can lead to some layoffs and slower hiring patterns.  Year-over-year the number of people applying for jobs has increased by about 3% and there was a 7% decrease since the last quarter.  Demand from our clients was down 4% year-over-year, and also down 3.5% from last quarter.  This suggests to us that the people affected by the layoffs are now active in their job searches.  We also believe that demand is very patchy, with no sectors booming in demand for professionals.

More Specifically:

cn towerThere is really very little change from my report last quarter.  This is the one market in Canada that has a continual demand for talent.  Toronto is the 5th largest city in North America with a population exceeding 6 million.  The GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is home to the most head offices (almost 700) in Canada and most head office staff (around 75,000).  Consequently it is also the hottest job market in Canada and generates about 60% of Eagle’s business.  While it remains a busy market we have seen some impact from downsizing in large companies that has increased the availability of senior people in the market.  Having said all that, if I were looking for work this is where I would like to be.  The sectors that are always looking for people include the financial, insurance, government and telecommunications sectors in addition to the retail sector and the construction industry.  There is also a fair amount of demand in the engineering and manufacturing space.

The Saddledome in CalgaryAgain very little change from last quarter.  Western Canada and more specifically Calgary as the “oil capital” of Canada, has taken the brunt of the hit from the drop in oil prices.  There have been multiple rounds of layoffs, and more are projected, with the possibility that it may be 2018 before we see a recovery.  When the big oil companies are hurting there is a trickle-down effect to all of the services companies that serve them and the local economy gets affected in retail and housing specifically.  The NDP government has done nothing to help boost confidence in Alberta for investors.  It should not be forgotten that both Saskatchewan and British Columbia have an oil sector too, and while they have been equally hit those provinces, seem to be doing better because their economies are less dependent on one sector.  We have seen reasonable, but not strong, demand for talent in Vancouver, Regina, Winnipeg and Edmonton but remain cautious about the longer term impact of the loss of oil revenues.  This could affect everyone as provincial tax coffers suffer and the ancillary businesses are hit.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”. There is a better mood in Ottawa and within the Federal Government (other than the morale issues caused by a non-functioning pay system) but that has not translated into a bunch of work, as we know the contracting process is long and arduous.   There is an expectation that the Liberal government will get some projects back on the books, and there is optimism that a new agenda will lead to more business in the National Capital Region specifically.  Montreal is relatively unchanged, not booming but a steady demand for resources, particularly in the financial and telecommunications sectors.  The Maritime Provinces have traditionally had higher rates of unemployment and this is not changing much so work is tough to find.

The Hot Client Demand.

At Eagle our focus in on professional staffing and the people in demand from our clients have been fairly consistent for some time. That would include Program Managers, Project Managers andBusiness Analysts who 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. Big data, 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.

Summary:

The basic message is … more of the same!  The oil patch continues to be in trouble with 2018 the latest target for a recovery of sorts.  Statistics show there are jobs being added in Canada, but the numbers are not impressive particularly when you see how the US is doing.

Federal and provincial governments are talking about stimulus spending and infrastructure projects, so there is an expectation this will create some boost to the economy.  If interest rates remain low, as expected, and the dollar remains fairly low, then we might also see some further growth in Canada’s relatively small manufacturing base.

With Canada’s overall unemployment rate at 6.8%, we can deduce that the unemployment rate for trades and skilled workers to be much lower, perhaps even approaching skill shortage levels.  Even in these uncertain times we see shortages in niche skill areas.

There are definitely still opportunities created because of the demographic pressures (retiring Boomers) and the need for companies to remain competitive.  We see opportunity in the construction industry, the financial sector, the telecommunications sector and the insurance sector.  We see the markets with the greatest demand as being Toronto, Vancouver and perhaps Montreal.  Ottawa is showing promise and could pick up if new projects are initiated by the new government.  Government spending will also provide a boost to employment as the stimulus money becomes available.

That was my look at the Canadian job market for the first quarter in 2016 and some of its influences.