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The Talent Development Centre includes advice for independent contractors in IT from one of Canada’s top staffing and recruitment agencies. See all posts about Vancouver.

Regional Job Market Update for Vancouver (January 2021)

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President Strategic Accounts & Client Solutions, Western Canada at Ea
gle
Downtown Vancouver Sunset
Downtown Vancouver Sunset” by Magnus Larsson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Vancouver’s economy and labour market has gone through much the same challenges and cycles as that of other Canadian provinces over the past year.  With trade barriers thrown up by the US last year, government spending impacted by reduced revenues and emergency spending/measures, housing prices falling dramatically, and BC’s large travel industry being hammered by COVID accommodations, it is no wonder that last year was a difficult one.  However, BC also benefits from a burgeoning high-tech industry — a sector of the economy that actually benefitted from the health issues of 2020.  This sector helped to lessen the blow overall and helps to set up the province and its largest city for a nice recovery.

Due to changing conditions across the board, BC is set to enjoy a Canada-leading rebound in 2021.  According to the  Business Intelligence for BC website, the unemployment rate is expected shrink to 6.5% this coming year (from 7.5% in 2020), to become one of the lowest of all provinces in Canada.  And GDP is to expand 5.6% vs last year, again, more than what is forecast for any other province.  Demand for housing, a strong underlying economic indicator, is forecasted to be strong, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. In fact, the Canadian Real Estate Association predicts that home prices are set to rebound strongly, growing by 9% this coming year.  As well, TD Bank Economists expect that government stimulus will make a big impact this coming year.  In addition to the Federal Gov’ts pledge to provide $70 – $100 billion in fiscal spending (across Canada), the BC Gov’t is expected to invest $2 billion in new spending and contingencies in 2021.  All this, along with more favorable trading terms expected with the United States and some return to normal travel helping both the tourism and hospitality industries, BC and Vancouver are set up for a very strong economic rebound this year.

Most of the economic benefits are expected to be seen over the final 6 to 8 months of the year as COVID accommodations are relaxed in lock step with the availability of the new vaccines.  That said, businesses and industries are planning for these coming benefits now and this is beginning to drive additional demand for information technology knowledge workers.  BC has already replaced over 90% of the jobs lost during the worst of the downturn last year (source: TD Bank Economists) and, as such, it is expected that knowledge workers of every stripe will be in shorter supply; perhaps no industry impacted as much as the IT industry that had already been somewhat insulated from the worst of 2020 economic impacts.

Demand for Eagle’s staffing services were relatively strong throughout December of 2020. December is typically a slower month given year-end, vacations and holidays, but January is expected to be red-hot and, even during these first few days of January, requirements have been strong.  Vancouver has always been rather steadfast as far as swings in contractor rates go.  Never being the highest in Canada, but seldom being the lowest, 2021 may challenge this trend.  Human resources (IT workers) that are experts in specialty roles in such areas as Cloud, Security, eCommerce, and Machine Learning/AI /Data Science will be harder to find and the expectations are that rates will increase over the coming year.  Whereas roles in areas such as infrastructure, server, raised floor, networking, and application management are likely to have rates remain mostly unchanged.  Experts who can build business /customer understanding, better insight, and drive scalable and secure efficiency will be in highest demand and earn the highest rates increases.

On a micro-level, the following are some of the hiring trends that Eagle is witnessing:

  • The level of experience demanded from our clients is higher, typically senior resources with solid project and/or domain knowledge.
  • We are being asked for more specialists than generalists. This is different from the “bottom” of the economic cycle, where our clients were seeking people who were generalists and could wear multiple hats and “keep the lights on”.  Today, our customers tend to ask for people who have expertise in a certain area and can go deep, delivering value to new projects.
  • There appears to be a balance between technical and functional roles. Demand is rising for both.
  • The “type” of technology being implemented is leading-edge vs. mainstream, with many cloud and AI projects and supporting business transformation initiatives. (although most organizations had to move their business transformation initiatives up earlier than they might have wanted to support work from home, etc. in 2020)
  • Contract hiring activity was slow-paced last year, but is now picking up its speed-to-hire. This will become critical as the market heats up this year. Companies who are slow to make hiring decisions will lose top candidates to others who are motivated to hire quickly.
  • As mentioned above, last year saw some downward pressure on contractors’ rates. This year we expect this to rebound. How far and how fast depends on the speed with which the economy rebounds.  All indications are that the economy is in for a strong improvement; rates will tend to follow.
  • Hiring organizations are more open to remote workers. This is a direct impact of the COVID accommodations that the entire world had to manage.  Companies have learned how to operate effectively using people working remotely from one another.  Organizations are able to cast a wider net for talent by adopting a work-from-anywhere approach.
  • Finally, we are seeing a change whereby job seekers are more active. People have been hunkered down, happy to have a stable position (if they were working through 2020).  These people were not looking to make a move, afraid of jumping from the frying pan into the fire!  This is rapidly changing as opportunities begin again to expand.  People are open again to considering new opportunities that will allow them to learn new skills and/or advance their careers.

All in all, 2021 appears to be highly promising for BC, Vancouver, and the IT industry as a whole as we bounce back from the impact of the slowdowns of this past year.

Regional Job Market Update for British Columbia (November 2019)

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle
Downtown Vancouver Sunset
Downtown Vancouver Sunset” by Magnus Larsson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

According to Central1, the BC economy continues to be one of the strongest in Canada and a couple of key indicators were quite positive in October. Employment numbers were up 0.6% which represents 15,300 persons or nearly 2.57 million persons seasonally adjusted. Most of this uptick came from the Vancouver Metropolitan Area (28,000 persons) and the news wasn’t so positive in other parts of the province where the natural resources, goods producing and manufacturing sectors all showed weakness. Interestingly, real estate sales in the lower mainland which had showed signs of weakening after government-introduced impediments is showing signs of a rebound, and MLS sales climbed for the 7th time in the past 8th months. BC’s unemployment rate at 4.7% remains the country’s lowest followed by Quebec at 5%. Low unemployment rates suggests a tight labor market and here at Eagle, the challenge to meet our clients’ demands means we need to use all tools at our disposal to reach an often “passive” candidate pool who in turn, have the luxury of picking and choosing which opportunities to pursue.

With all this in mind, BC continues to be an exceptional place to be if you are working in the IT/IM sector. Jobs remain plentiful in the public and private sectors as organizations pursue their own brand of digital transformation in an effort to better deliver value to their customers. This might be focused internally on projects that help an enterprise better manage their data (Business Intelligence) or in how a firm manages their IS, as either on premise, cloud or a hybrid solution. And because this technology impacts so many organizational domains, it in turn fuels other initiatives needed to support the transformation and this seeds other projects.

What makes these projects so exciting is that the technologies being employed are somewhat newer and experience — or even better, expertise — with that tool immediately puts you in demand. This might involve technologies associated with the Microsoft stack and Azure and feature products like SSIS, SSRS and Power BI. Or, if the project is using open-source utilities, you might be noticing expertise is required with Hadoop, Spark, Scala, Kafka or Hortonworks.

Speaking of software companies and products, BC continues to be a hotbed of established and younger IT product and services companies, perfect for the new grad or experienced Software Engineer. In fact, in a list published November 8th, Deloitte announced the 2019 winners of its Technology Fast 50, Companies-to-Watch and Enterprise Fast 15 Programs and 10 of the top 50 were BC Tech companies (2nd only to Ontario).

BC remains a strong market for IT professionals and the myriad selection of projects that require top resources does not seem to be abating, especially in the lower mainland. The extra work for IT professionals is the never-ending onus to upgrade and keep your skills and experience relevant and that can be a challenge.

Regional Job Market Update for British Columbia (April 2019)

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

Current economic forecasts for BC are a bit of a mixed bag. Most economists are predicting an economic slowdown over the next three years, according to a report released Thursday by credit union Central 1. The report specifically references the housing market downturn impacting GDP growth in BC.

Vancouver SkylineIt is expected that the resultant drop in demand and prices will trigger a sharp contraction in housing construction and reduced condominium pre-sale activity which will result in “the most pronounced drop in broader residential development since 2009.”

At the same time, another credit rating agency, the Domestic Bond Rating Service (DBRS Ltd.), confirmed the provinc’s long-term debt rating at AA (high) and the short-term debt rating R-1 (high). DBRS Ltd. stated in a news release “The ratings remain well supported by the province’s diverse and growing economy, positive outlook, ample fiscal capacity and low debt burden.”

DBRS’s rating comes after the international credit rating agency Moody’s confirmed in January its AAA rating of B.C., making it the only province in Canada to be rated triple A by all three international credit rating agencies (Moody’s, Standard and Poor and Fitch).

Another bright spot is an expected uptick in capital investment, including LNG projects which should drive associated construction and infrastructure projects. Is a pipeline in the future? With a new government in Alberta, expect that conversation to heat up quickly. And with the aforementioned triple A rating, the cost to borrow remains attractive which should continue investment in BCs infrastructure and public services.

So what does that mean for you as an IT professional?

It should mean that things will not change all that much. The very low unemployment rates in the province and even lower rates for information technology should be considered positive factors for opportunity. BC remains an attractive location for business and a cooling, more reasonable housing sector should, in theory, correct one of the structural impediments to attracting talent. Public sector spending shows no sign of weakening as municipal and provincial governments respond to demand from their constituents for new and better servicing. In fact, the healthcare sector in particular is experiencing massive transformation and this is driving a need for project specialists.

If you have specific experience with Cerner or other large Electronic Health Records packages, you’ve probably noticed that you are in demand and you’re probably shutting down LinkedIn in an effort to get away from recruiters and headhunters who are trying to connect with you.

But it’s not just specialist skills that are in demand. These projects are large and touch so many aspects of an organization that we are seeing requirements for all skillsets including the pillars of any initiative, Project Managers, Business Analysts, Architects, Developers and Testers. And as with any transformative work, we’ve seen a large uptick in the demand for Change Managers and Organizational Change Managers.

The one downside to these opportunities is often the mandatory requirement that candidates have previous clinical or healthcare experience. The question our recruiters are most often asked by clearly frustrated candidates is “How do I get experience in healthcare, if they won’t hire me because I lack healthcare experience?” The first step is to get an understanding of the types of technologies and software used throughout the industry (ex. Cerner), and determine if your current skills or toolset are transferable. If not, you may need further training or experience. But in the meantime, you can certainly use that knowledge to craft your selling message to recruiters and hiring managers.

What’s hot besides healthcare?

Large scale infrastructure projects continue to need resources for anything from basic, but urgent, Windows upgrades to very large deployments of hardware and software. And on the application development side, it depends on what you are programming for. Microsoft still controls a large portion of our corporate client’s landscape and we continue to see a need for .Net programmers. But full stack, mobile and web developers who have worked with Java or JavaScript related tools such as Node.js, Angular or React will also find a pretty healthy demand for their skills.

And the cloud continues to drive demand for infrastructure specialists and integration experts who can get “on premise” and cloud systems talking to each other.

As I’ve mentioned before, if any of this is familiar to you and your area of expertise, you should feel pretty good about your employment or engagement opportunities in BC. The public sector and crown corporations are robust. Work, especially in the health sector, has exploded and there is no reason to believe it will slow down. The private sector has a good mix of large, traditional corporations delivering products and services along with a steady influx of startup and app centric software shops. All in all, BC currently offers lots of opportunity but as always in Information Technology, having a bit of a specialization will help open doors.

Regional Job Market Update for British Columbia

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

Vancouver SkylineWhile the job market in Vancouver and BC might be seen as being relatively flat this year and there have been signs pointing to a softening of the economy, those more qualified than I point to an economy currently operating at near capacity. In general, employment numbers are high and unemployment low. According to Central 1, B.C.’s job vacancy rate is highest amongst all provinces, pointing to a shortage of skilled workers across industries. This is certainly true in the IT sector where specialized skills remain in demand and finding suitable resources remains a challenge. Is the local market tapped out? Not quite, but again, a fairly robust economy, not to mention business and client expectations, means that there are a lot of changes underway. And change, more often than not, leads to opportunity.

So what does the current market offer IT professionals in BC?

We’re definitely seeing an uptick or continuation in the popularity of SAAS and if you combine it with Service Management for example, you should be taking notice of the number of Service Now initiatives taking place not only in BC but across Canada.

More and more of our clients are also in the midst of cloud transformations and there is a need to find project specialists who can assist with managing changes to the delivery of IT to the organization.

Large scale infrastructure projects are also widespread, everything from more basic, but urgent, Windows upgrades to very large deployments of hardware and software. We’ve also noticed a demand for virtualization experts in recent months.

On the application development side, it depends on what you are programming for. Microsoft still controls a large portion of our corporate client’s landscape and we continue to see a need for .NET programmers. But mobile and web developers who have worked with Java or JavaScript related tools such as Node.js, Angular or React will also find a pretty healthy demand for their skills.

What roles are our clients looking for? Despite all of the tech buzz that exists in the market, we continue to network with and recruit senior level Project Managers, Business Analysts, Architects and Testers…the bedrock of any IT project. With all the initiatives underway, project managers who have a strong record of delivering projects from inception to completion will find lots of opportunity in the Lower Mainland. Business Analysts fulfill all kinds of needs on a project. It may be straight forward requirements analysis or there could be aspects of change management and communications or process mapping and reengineering. Enterprise Architects are in short supply and in demand as well and finally testers, both automation and manual varieties are needed.

If you have any of these skills, you should feel pretty good about your employment or engagement opportunities in BC. The public sector and crown corporations are robust. Work, especially in the health sector, has exploded and there is no reason to believe it will slow down. The private sector has a good mix of large, traditional corporations delivering products and services along with a steady influx of startup and app centric software shops. All in all, BC currently offers lots of opportunity but as always in Information Technology, having a bit of a specialization will help open doors.

Discover Vancouver and Its Job Opportunities

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

The Insiders’ Guide to Moving to Vancouver… Plus a Tip to Find Work When You Get Here!

The truth about the Canadian economy is that while some regions may be booming in job opportunities, others continue to struggle. Even in those cities where careers thrive for one trade or skillset, an expert in another field may not be getting the same luck. If you’re considering a change in venue to find a new career opportunity, have you considered moving to Vancouver?

Is Vancouver the Right Place for You?

Downtown Vancouver Sunset
Downtown Vancouver Sunset” by Magnus Larsson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

We all have our perspectives on what a city must be like, even when we’ve never set foot in it. Vancouver is one of those cities that evokes a lot of different feelings amongst Canadians. It gets its fair share of press, both negative and positive, which feeds into the stereotypes we all have. For example:

  • We’ve all heard of the “crazy” Vancouver housing market — it exists, but both the City and Province are taking steps to make renting in Vancouver or purchasing a house or condo more affordable.
  • The rain — there is a lot in the winter, but winter is soooo short!
  • The beauty of the city — oceans, mountains, parks… what’s not to like?

The truth is, if you want to live in a city with access to an endless selection of outdoor activities, a thriving arts and culture scene, more international restaurants featuring ethnic and sea food than you will find anywhere, great post-secondary schools, and an airport that gives you access to the entire Pacific Rim, Vancouver is it!

The Job Market and Opportunities in Vancouver

Vancouver has a thriving economy. Already considered one of the most livable cities in the world, businesses are flocking to the city in record numbers and that is driving a lot of opportunity. Companies like Google, AOL, SAP, Amazon to name a few, have decided that Vancouver is a great place to put down roots. Access to Engineering grads and a lifestyle which attracts potential employees from all over the globe has made the city increasingly attractive. And with this “boom” the spillover effect is that other areas of the economy have to respond to the need for increased services and infrastructure. And that leads to more and greater job opportunities, which is where we are at today.

An Inside Scoop on Project Management Jobs in Vancouver!

Eagle is one of Vancouver’s leading employment agencies and we offer a number of IT job opportunities, both contract and full-time. Today, we’re fortunate to be partnering with BC Clinical and Support Services Society (BCCSS) to assist them in hiring a large number of permanent employees with IT Project Management expertise, including Portfolio Managers, Infrastructure Project Managers and Project Manager Team Leads.

Not only is this one of the largest initiatives that I’ve ever been part of, but it has to be one of the largest in Vancouver’s history! And it is not just the volume of recruits needed. The opportunity to work in the health sector, delivering services to mission critical staff and systems in a challenging and dynamic environment, is a rare opportunity that does not come along often. Fantastic Benefits, Pension and other perks all add to the attractiveness of these roles.

So if you’ve been thinking about moving to Vancouver or always had a question in the back of your mind as to what would it be like to live there. Stop thinking about it and act… now is the time.   Feel free to leave your questions in the comments section below.

Vancouver: North America’s Newest Tech Hub

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle
Vancouver: North America's Newest Tech Hub
Vancouver Sunset by gags9999 Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Mention Vancouver and a few things come automatically to mind: Gorgeous landscapes, Stanley Park, laid back people, rain and pricey real estate, to name a few. And while a lot of people know about the Technology industry here, most of you probably have no idea just how big the industry is.

In fact, Vancouver has 3 “Unicorns” or local startups listed at over 1 billion dollars in value (Hootsuite, Avigilon and Slack) and major players like Microsoft, SAP and others have set up shop in trendy locations around Gastown, Yaletown and other interesting Vancouver locations.

While we are yet to approach the scale of IT hubs like the San Francisco Bay area, Washington D.C. or Seattle, Vancouver continues to be an increasingly attractive place for tech companies to do business. Great universities and a rapidly growing millennial population provide a steady supply of talent. Liberal immigration laws provide an even deeper labour pool. Add in relatively cheap commercial real estate compared to U.S. locales and it is easy to see why more and more industry players are locating to Silicon Valley North.

Check out this article from Vancouver Economic Commission for a better understanding North America’s newest tech hub and why you can expect it to be the best city for technology job opportunities in the coming years.