Few companies plan to boost hiring

A recent survey of 270 Canadian CIOs, working at companies with more than 100 employees, found that projected IT hiring in 2003 is less likely to increase than in past years. Results from the Robert Half Technology survey reveal that five per cent (net) of Canadian companies expect to hire more IT staff this year.

In 2002, a net of 14 per cent of CIOs surveyed said they would increase their staff size, though the figure turned out to be rather optimistic. In 2001, 18 per cent of CIOs said they were going to expand staff.

But Stephen Mill, regional manager at Robert Half in Toronto, sees the 2003 forecast as being a little more grounded than previous years. “It is way more realistic today,” he said. “Now we are probably in a situation where we can surpass the five per cent and I think that is more in line with how CIOs and business leaders are thinking today.

“‘Let’s quote conservatively and see if we can’t surpass what we are quoting,'” is the reasoning, he added.

Ten per cent of the CIOs surveyed said they planned on increasing IT staff numbers this year. Five per cent said they were going to cut back, while 85 per cent didn’t expect to make any changes.

In some industries, however, there is a great deal more optimism. Seventeen per cent of CIOs in the construction industry said they plan to increase IT staff numbers, and none forecast staff reductions. Transportation CIOs predicted a net growth of nine per cent, while the business services sector is predicted to grow by eight per cent.

The survey did not include the numbers of those industries that are predicting a decline in numbers. Mill said the report wanted to focus on the upside. However, he said the retail and distribution sectors will probably see IT employment numbers shrink.