Report: Youth is king in Canadian IT

Canada’s IT workforce is populated mostly with young, college-educated males residing in Central Canada, according to the latest figures from the Software Human Resource Council (SHRC).

The Ottawa-based sector council released Wednesday the findings of its Labour Force Survey 2000-2002.

The report, entitled Analysis of Labour Force Data for the Information Technology Occupations, looks at trends in the Canadian IT labour market.

Prepared for SHRC and Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) by economist William G. Wolfson, it describes the trends in the size of the labour force and the unemployment rate for the entire IT workforce, comprised of 17 occupations, and for each of five IT occupational groups (Managers, Engineers, Analysts, Programmers and Technicians).

The report also describes the characteristics and labour market experiences of the workers in the entire IT workforce, and for each of these five occupational groups over the same time period.

Canada IT workers are well-schooled, the report found, with more than three-quarters having attained a post-secondary degree in all occupations except Technicians.

Almost three-quarters of all IT workers are located in Ontario and Quebec. Ontario alone has over one-half of the workforce.

According to SHRC, IT is a young occupation, with 44 per cent of workers under 35 years of age. An additional 36 per cent of workers are in the 35 to 44 age group, with just 20 per cent in the 45 plus category.

These IT jobs are predominately staffed by male workers – fewer than one-quarter of workers are female, the report found.

The SHRC said males have even greater dominance in engineering jobs, where they comprise almost 90 per cent of the workforce, and noted that females have above average representation in the Analyst and Technicians fields.

In all, the study reveals that Canada’s IT labour force climbed from about 410,000 workers at the beginning of 2000 through to mid-2001 when it exceeded 440,000 workers. From mid-2001 onwards the workforce was in flux, dropping back to year 2000 levels by the end of that year.

As of last summer, the number jumped to 420,000 workers, SHRC said.

The unemployment rate for all 17 IT occupations has ranged from a low of 2 per cent late in 2000 to over 5 per cent by mid-summer 2002, after dipping to below 4 per cent in the spring of 2002, the report found.