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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.

The Marijuana Industry is an Exciting Place for Canadian IT Professionals

Brianne Risley By Brianne Risley,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

The Medical Marijuana Industry is an Exciting Place for Canadian IT ProfessionalsCannabis — growing, selling, legislating… as we lead into the October 17th legalization date, there has been hyper-focus on what effect this emerging industry will have in Canada. Whether you love it or hate it, the disruption in the market has created some fascinating gaps where enterprising Information Technology professionals can innovate, create, retro-fit, and grow into a brand-new field. Some of Canada’s most exciting IT jobs are in the Marijuana industry!

The rapid growth of the cannabis industry has created a network of competing, well-funded, start-up companies who are up against a time crunch to absorb people and processes to get product to market and the enabler for all of this is technology. The emerging and bleeding-edge skills that are in-demand and being implemented in this sector can fuel an IT professional across the next 10 years of their career! This industry has the exciting IT Career Buzzwords tech pros crave:

  • Automation: Automated or robotic systems are needed to fertilize, water, and control ambient temperature to maximize yield, decrease risk, add predictability to a harvest, and certainty around a supply chain. You’ve heard of Fin-Tech… this “Grow-Tech” has ramifications for all agri-food verticals.
  • Business Process Re-engineering: What are we doing today? Has anyone written it down? How can we make this bigger/better/faster? What technology hurtles are weighing us down? What can we innovate/change? Documenting and building frameworks of repeatable processes where none existed before is an exciting proposition.
  • Change Management: Disruption, M&A work, new systems, new employees, training – this is a perfect storm for helping people manage through technology and process change.
  • Data and Reporting: How can I track my supply chain? Are there predictive analytics that can help me with forecasting? How do I use reports to balance risk and the reporting requirements of a highly regulated healthcare environment? Data scientists and reporting specialists will be in demand to create models for this business.
  • ERP: There aren’t specialized ERP packages that deal with this segment of business yet. The opportunity comes from being able to retrofit mid-market packages to support the SCM, Manufacturing, and Pharma/Health aspects of the business, and customizing these elements for the future.
  • E-commerce: How do you build and deploy a scalable, user-friendly, and secure e-commerce website? The lessons learned in this space have broad-market appeal to any client in the Retail industry and is a highly desirable skill.
  • Remote Monitoring: Video feeds to control quality, control systems to adjust variables in production — the data storage systems required to track this, along with the infrastructure connectivity in field sites opens all sorts of interesting dynamics.
  • Security: Logical and physical security to ensure there is a safe product to sell to market.

Broadly speaking, this industry isn’t for everyone. Operating in “start-up” mode for companies that are going through heavy transition can create personal and professional uncertainty. In describing the ideal person for this kind of work, I would say the following: it’s your calling to build things — you see frameworks where nothing existed before. You will be at the forefront of building out a global manufacturing and supply chain network. You will customize, deploy, and adapt Cloud technologies to solve emerging issues in the ERP, E-commerce, and asset management space. You will build process and structure on demand where none existed before to become an industry leader in a burgeoning health field – Medical or Recreational Marijuana.

Eagle is currently working with several major Medical Marijuana clients who are looking to build-out their team with smart, information technology professionals. Willingness to relocate to Western Canada is key as we build-out these teams. If you are interested in finding out more about what a career in this field might entail, I would encourage you to create a profile on our job board and reach out to your Eagle recruiter.

Join us as we assist in creating the foundations of a lucrative new IT vertical!

Canadian Job Market Update

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

Canadian Job Market UpdateIn the second half of 2018 the general message to technology job seekers is a positive one, and below I will explain why, and also why there is some caution to that statement.

On the face of things a 5.8% unemployment rate is as good as it has been, and Canada has created 240,000 jobs (mostly full time) in the last twelve months which is all good.  The downside for the economy is that a large portion of those jobs have been public sector, which while good for the job seeker today is not at all good for Canada’s economy.  As we have seen in Ontario, a change in political power means that investment in public sector jobs can change quickly as Ontario has a hiring freeze and a pay freeze for executives.  Overall I expect there to be plenty of opportunity in the public sector due to the large numbers of retirees that will need to be replaced, even if new jobs are curtailed.

Canada’s economy, like most of the world, is doing well. The TSX as a representative market indicator is in around the 16,500 points which is about 1,500 higher than last year.  The price of a barrel of oil is up around 65c which is much better than the $50 we saw perhaps a year ago.  As indicated above, the unemployment numbers are also good.  The Canadian dollar has ranged between 75c and 80c for a while, but NAFTA negotiations, the trade war with the US, the potential carbon tax impacts, loss of investment in Canada, the continuing oil patch debacle and recent labor law changes in Ontario can all conspire to change the situation.

One of the drivers of opportunity for jobs in Canada is the success of the US market, which has added jobs consistently, month over month since the last recession.  The stories of skills shortages, particularly in tech are common.  The TechServe Alliance attributes the slowing in growth of IT jobs to the growing skills shortage in the tech space.  We are seeing, and will continue to see large Global companies with headquarters in the US opting to add capacity in Canada, where there is an educated workforce, in similar time zones and within easy reach of head office.  Amazon, Facebook, Google and others have announced such activity in recent months.  So opportunities will exist for people willing to relocate to the US, in addition to jobs in Canada being created by US companies.

The GTA is Canada’s largest market, and is home to more head offices than any other city in Canada by a large margin.  The financial sector is largely headquartered here and is a huge employer of technology resources.  The telecommunications industry also has a large tech base in the GTA.  As the fourth largest city in North America 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.  The one exception would be Calgary, which has not returned to pre-oil crisis levels of activity but is still busier this year than last.

The type of roles that have been in most demand at Eagle in the recent past have been developers, business analysts, project managers, Sys Admins, Architects and database admins.

In summary, people with tech skills should have little difficulty in finding employment, either contract or perm for the foreseeable future.  A willing ness to relocate to the bigger centres will only increase their marketability.  The only potential downside is whether Canada can maintain its competitiveness given the aggressive approach of the US administration in supporting US business.  I expect our government to act at some point to provide relief to Canadian business.

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.

That’s my look at the Canadian Job market to date in 2018.

Has The Calgary Market Finally “Turned The Corner”?

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President Strategic Accounts & Client Solutions, Western Canada at Eagle

It has been two (plus?) very long and difficult years for the Alberta economy, especially so in Calgary. Tens of thousands of people had lost jobs and/or have had to take wage or rate cuts. The trickle-down effect from this to the broader economy was huge. Compared to the economic dip created during the 2008/2009 world financial crisis, this was a “valley” for the local economy. During this time, Alberta went from a “have” province to a “have-not” one, adding deficit spending in the billions of dollars. Market rates for contract work fell and more closely matched those in the rest of Canada. The “Alberta Advantage” had all but disappeared.

The City of Calgary has been working very hard to attract new companies to the city and diversify the industry. Over the final months of 2017, Eagle had witnessed some new, small projects popping up here and there. This was partly due to M&A activity, but was mostly outside of the Oil and Gas (O&G) space. This new activity was spotty at best and all companies didn’t participate in a general sense. However, since the New Year the feeling has been more optimistic across a broader base of companies. Big O&G companies are holding their own, although they’re not driving a lot of the new projects. But outside of these, work is beginning to show up again.

In the Information Technology and Communication sectors we are seeing cloud, security, infrastructure, and some new development projects being rolled out. And there does appear to be more companies participating this time. Rates have halted their decline, although there hasn’t been much upward movement either.

Also, an interesting situation has occurred on the skills side of things. It had been common practice that IT consultants relied on new, leading edge projects to keep their skills up-to-date. However, with the lack of projects available over the past two years some are finding their experience/skills have fallen behind where technology is at today. And as companies spark up their new projects, they are looking for employees/independent contractors with knowledge and experience in the latest technology. Oddly enough this has created a skills shortage in certain areas within the market, despite supply and demand being closer to a balance than it has been in a very long time. It will be interesting to see where this takes us.

So, has Calgary officially turned the corner economically speaking? It feels as if it has. I would love to be able to report emphatically and with confidence that things are on the upswing. However, only time will tell. When Calgary came out of the financial recession in 2009/2010, we had one of the busiest summers ever. People were trying to make up for lost time on the projects and lost billings for their businesses. Work and projects were plentiful, and we saw many people foregoing their vacations in favour of getting caught up.

But will this time be different? After two years of depressed economic conditions, one would think that there would be some appetite to make hay. But people are also fatigued. Over the past years, those that were able to find opportunities had to push through working as many hours as possible. When between assignments, they were working extra hard to find their next gig. There wasn’t a lot of rest or downtime over this very long period. So maybe a rest is needed and work will slow over the summer. The continued growth of our economy requires that we get our second wind and push through. The activity level over the next two months will show whether Calgary is back to growing again or whether this will be the new normal (for a while longer, at least).

What do you think? What are your feelings on this subject? Share your prediction by leaving a comment below!

Ottawa Regional Job Market Update

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

Amazon has Chosen Ottawa!

That’s what they call the attention grabber! Though the title is true, it’s not the highly publicized Amazon HQ from October 2017, but rather a large logistics warehouse. Despite it not being the “Amazon Jackpot” we all heard about, it will nevertheless produce 1000 good, middle class jobs.

Traditionally, the Ottawa job market has been driven by the Federal Government and it’s by far the single biggest employer. But news like the Amazon warehouse has started some exciting conversations locally about the increased activity seen in Ottawa’s Private Sector. Ottawa’s high tech sector, once the pinnacle of the late 90’s/early 2000 economic boom, which led to Ottawa being referred to as Silicon Valley North, is now pared down. However, it is still led by the mighty $15 billion dollar global electronic commerce star, Shopify. The bulk of the company is in Ottawa and has been on an ever expanding hiring bonanza for several months now. Other high tech companies, albeit much smaller but not insignificant, like You.i TV ,Klipfolio , Kinaxis and Mindbridge AI have also driven up hiring in the high tech sector.

All of this is good news for the Ottawa economy, but the government or more broadly the Public Sector is still the straw that stirs the drink. The Trudeau government has been on a hiring frenzy since 2015. We already know that the Public Sector in Ontario has created 5 jobs to every 1 in the Private Sector for the last several years, but whether that is a sustainable formula is a topic for another day (Hint: it’s not)!

The broader Public Sector in Ottawa, in addition to the Feds, include the City that employs 20,000 employees, the universities with 12,000+, and the hospitals with another 11,000. These are all jobs that tend not to disappear, quite the opposite in fact. All of this has contributed to a blazing hot unemployment rate of 4.4% in May, the lowest in over a decade. The unemployment rate in tech, though not specifically measured, would be a mere fraction of the overall rate.

The Feds have added 1900 jobs in April alone. Shared Services Canada (SSC) is the most prominent having added 300+ in the last year. We know many of these jobs have been life time contractors converting to FTE’s in the Government. This caused a level of concern for many IT staffing agencies in Ottawa, as they suffer both a loss of revenue and the scarcity of quality candidates becomes even more exacerbated.

At Eagle, the greatest demand in Ottawa in the last quarter as been in these categories:

  1. Architect
  2. Project Manager
  3. Developer
  4. Database Administrator
  5. Systems Analyst

Regional Job Market Update for Edmonton

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

Much has been made of the continuing recession in Alberta and the fact that we may finally have hit rock bottom means things can only get better from this point on. An interesting statistic takes a look at the sales of new vs. used cars and found that the sales of new vehicles fell 18% during the period between 2014 and 2016, while the sale of used vehicles rose 10%. This same trend was noted during the recession of 2008 to 2009. During that recession new vehicle sales fell 27%, a huge decline and an indicator that things were bad.

So what’s happening now? According to recent stats, as Alberta’s economy gradually gains traction, new vehicle sales are rising once again. They rose 11% in 2017 and signs point to that trend continuing.

Much like the trend in new car sales, the market for Information Technology professionals declined during the recession. The Edmonton market was not as heavily impacted as the Calgary market during this time however, there was a definite decrease as companies and organizations took a cold, hard look at their spending. Edmonton is supported by its large Public Sector and while much of the private sector was hunkering down and keeping the lights on, government at the municipal and provincial level didn’t have that luxury, as taxpayers were clamored for increased and improved services. Additionally, the newly elected government in 2015 brought in a large number of policy initiatives and changes and the result was the reorganization and/or implementation of new systems and processes, which created a consistent level of activity. Things felt a bit slower, but there still seemed to be a demand. If you were an experienced architect, project manager, business analyst or .Net developer, there was little shortage of requirements and opportunities.

What we’re seeing today is different. Those roles continue to be in demand, but we’re seeing (and hearing of) major projects either in the planning stage or already on the docket and ready to go. Clients in traditional sectors seem to have greater confidence and are moving projects from planning to implementation. And new companies and partnerships are springing up in response to new opportunities and legislation, such as the legalization of Cannabis. This is driving innovation and opportunities in technology, especially around data, security, mobile apps and the cloud.

So what roles are clients looking for? As mentioned earlier, project managers, business analysts, and developers continue to be in demand. But we’re definitely seeing the introduction of roles pointing towards the changes taking place in the market.

You may begin to find your skills are in high demand, if you possess the following expertise:

  • Data Scientists
  • Cloud Specialists, specifically “integration” architects
  • ITSM/Workflow Consultants (Service Now)
  • Front End Developers (JavaScript and associated tools)
  • QA Specialists

Quarterly Job Market Update Across Canada – Q4 2017

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

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on January 23rd, 2018.

General Observations:

Job SearchingThe unemployment rate at the end December was 5.7%. This was the lowest rate in forty (40) years, and a significant improvement over September when it was 6.2%. During the previous 12 months, Canada added a very strong 422,500 jobs of which 394,200 were permanent full-time jobs.

As just one indicator of the markets, and for the purposes of this report, I focus on the TSX which showed strong growth during Q4, ending with a reading of 16,200 which was an improvement of 600 points from the end of Q3.

The price of a barrel of oil saw a little resurgence in the final quarter of 2017 reaching heights it hadn’t seen for a few years now. It remains to be seen whether a price near the $65 range is sustainable, or the result of some OPEC activity but some companies are reacting positively.

The Canadian dollar continued to operate in the 80c US range, which was very similar to Q3. This was positive given how well the US economy has been performing.

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 reading in Q4 was close to its high, at 123. This was a big jump from its Q3 reading of 109 and a reading of 116 in Q4 of last year.

Here at Eagle, demand was about as expected in Q4 which includes the holiday season. Client demand dipped about 15% and was very similar to demand in Q4 of last year. The number of job applicants was up more than 20% from Q4 of a year ago, and very similar to last quarter when we would have expected a seasonal dip.

Some of the sectors with big talent demands.

The financial sector is a huge employer in Canada and top talent is always in demand. Technology is a huge part of their ecosystem and they invest in leading-edge technologies to gain competitive advantage and to improve productivity. The banks have been leaders in automation (ATMs etc) and invest in AI, technology incubators and all of the latest innovations. There will continue to be a demand in their technology shops into the foreseeable future.

Like the banks, the telcos are big believers in technology and invest heavily. They have large technology groups and are always looking for ways to differentiate and gain competitive advantage through the use of technology. 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, and with the recently introduced tax changes we can anticipate more investment and an even bigger appetite for talent. The demand for skills in the US coupled with Canada’s increased tax burden will ensure that Canadian talent continues to head south.

The construction industry continues to thrive in Canada, and presents a good career opportunity. The never-ending demand from the big projects (look at the skyline in just about any city), coupled with the demand for home renovation projects will ensure this demand continues for some time yet. The aging workforce will also present opportunities, as workers retire.

The three levels of government in Canada are big employers, employing more than 20% of Canada’s workforce (CFIB). These are well-paying jobs with great benefits, and with the retiring baby boomer generation comes a continuing need for talent.

More Specifically:

There are more than six (6) million people living in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and it is home to more than 50% of Canadian head offices. It is the 4th largest city in North America, and represents about 60% of Eagle’s business. As such it remains Canada’s busiest market, with the biggest appetite for talent. The financial, telecommunications, insurance and services sectors are all busy. The construction business is booming and there is a vibrant high tech/startup community.

There are plenty of signs that Western Canada is recovering from the oil sector meltdown. While the oil and gas sector itself is not particularly vibrant, it has turned the corner and the worst of the downsizing and layoffs are finished. Large companies will always need talent, to replace their retiring employees, for new projects and to bring new lifeblood into the organisation. Governments in Western Canada are continuing to implement programs and projects that require talent, infrastructure spending is happening and there are opportunities, particularly in the larger centres. BC is enjoying the lowest unemployment rate in the country and Alberta is starting to see jobs come back. Saskatchewan continues to be a leader in promoting business and hence job opportunities and Manitoba too is doing well. Overall the West is in a good place.

Eagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”. Ottawa is very much a government town again, and there are opportunities in the Feds, which is returning to its employment highs of some years ago. The tech sector in Ottawa is alive and well with some up and comers, like Shopify and Assent Compliance joining the Mitels and others that have been around a while. While not providing the opportunities of Toronto, Ottawa does have some demand for talent. Quebec appears to be enjoying a renaissance as its unemployment rate is now better than Ontario’s, in addition to having healthier finances. They have been able to attract industries (such as large data centres) to help the economy and add jobs. It doesn’t hurt that their hydro rates are very competitive as opposed to Ontario’s situation. The Maritime Provinces don’t represent a great opportunity for the job seeker; however, PEI and Nova Scotia are both showing signs of an improving economy.

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. 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 more than 422,000 jobs last year, and with the unemployment rate at its lowest in 40 years it is a good time to be looking for work.

There are a number of factors creating this positive situation, including 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 continue to demand talent. The growth of the “gig economy” creates new opportunities for people to define their own destiny and become mini-entrepreneurs, or build new enterprises.

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”. Clearly the biggest job market is the GTA, but opportunity exists across the country.

In the hotter markets, we are seeing clear skills shortages and the “in-demand” people are receiving multiple job offers, giving them the ability to “pick and choose”. So… IF you are looking people, and want to hire the best talent here are some things you should consider:

  1. Start the process early with a strong PLANNING phase;
  2. Develop very clean processes to find, screen, choose, hire and onboard these new resources (if you drag out the hiring process you WILL lose);
  3. Know that you will have a lot of competition and therefore speed in decision making will be critical;
  4. The job doesn’t stop there… a great retention strategy will be critical!

That was my look at the Canadian job market for the third quarter of 2017 and some of its influences.

Quarterly Job Market Update Across Canada for Q2 2017

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

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

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.