Average worker is young, eager to learn

Concern over training, not pay, leads workers to find new jobs, programmers are particularly restless and men still dominate the industry – these are just some of the findings of a recent survey of Canadian IT professionals.

The report was undertaken by Statistics Canada on behalf of Human Resources Development Canada and the Software Human Resource Council (SHRC), and was conducted last year.

The survey focused on three industries, including insurance companies in Ontario; architecture, engineering and related services in Quebec; and computer systems design and related services across the country. Approximately 1,400 questionnaires were gathered.

The results showed career development was a much more important reason for taking a new job than better pay. For instance, in the computer systems design industry, 36 per cent of IT employees said they left their last job for career development reasons compared to only 14 per cent who left for higher remuneration.

The average age of IT employees working in the three industries varied greatly, and differed from the Canadian labour force as a whole. In the computer systems design and related services industry, for instance, nearly 56 per cent of employees were under the age of 35. And in and the architectural, engineering and related services industry, two-thirds of workers were under the age of 35.

By contrast, 39 per cent of Canada’s total labour force were under the age of 35 in 2001.

The survey also found that the average tenure for computer programmers in their current positions ranged from 3.5 to 4.5 years, as opposed to an average of just under eight years for the labour force as a whole; only one-third of IT workers had their first job in the field; word-of-mouth recruitment was the most used method for finding an IT position; the IT sector is dominated by males (women accounted for only 13 per cent to 36 per cent of IT employees in the three industries surveyed); and that immigrants made up about a quarter of the IT workforce in the three industries surveyed.

The survey is the second part of a larger study. The first part, an employer survey, was released earlier this year.