Survey finds CIOs

A recent survey of Canadian CIOs finds that while there won’t be a whole lot of IT hiring in Canada over the next quarter, there won’t be many layoffs either.

The survey found that Canadian execs are erring on the side of caution when it comes to hiring IT staff. Eighty per cent of CIOs polled said they intend to maintain their current IT staff levels, while only 15 per cent of CIOs said they plan to hire additional IT personnel. Two per cent are planning on staff reductions.

Conducted by an independent research firm on behalf of Robert Half Technology for the Robert Half Technology Information Technology Hiring Index and Skills Report, the survey involved more than 270 CIOs from Canadian firms with 100 or more employees.

Despite the flattened hiring trend, the unemployed workforce’s prospects are not decreasing, according to Stephen Mill, regional manager of Robert Half in Toronto. “I’d say that for anyone who is unemployed, it is the reverse. There are more opportunities today.

“When the vast majority of people who are hiring are citing the fact that business is better, that’s just going to take a bit of time perhaps to trickle through to more and more companies,” Mill said. “Because there are so many companies today — and I hear this every single day — that don’t want to be in a position to [where they have to] lay people off.”

Of those CIOs who indicated they plan on hiring, 72 per cent of them said business expansion is the reason.

That’s one of the reasons Accenta Display Corp. is now looking for a computer systems engineer, said one of its account managers, Edward Gravador. Five years ago, the provider of retail store displays and signage had a total of 12 people working in its Mississauga, Ont. office. Now the company has 45 employees, including its U.S. operations, and it’s time to stop outsourcing its IT work and hire someone in-house, Gravador said.

“The people who were contracted out would send someone different each time and they would have to look up the entire system again to try to figure it out,” he explained. “Also, they can only get here when they have the time to get here. In a crisis, if the system goes down on Monday, they can only get here by Tuesday.”

In terms of skills, 80 per cent of survey respondents cited Microsoft Windows administration as an area of expertise they were looking for, while SQL Server management received votes from 42 per cent. An additional 34 per cent indicated that Cisco Network administration was something they were looking for in workers. (Respondents were able to choose multiple answers for this question.)

Mill said the business intelligence area is also hot right now, as it relates to technological development. Query and reporting, online analytical processing, data mining and forecasting are other skill sets that are in demand.

“The Web is pretty hot again, believe it or not, just because everything is tied to it now, not just from customer service, customers buying online,” Mill said, adding that, “from a framework and tech perspective, .Net is still extremely popular,” and programmers are more in demand overall.

Gravador said Accenta’s ideal IT worker would be a jack-of-all-trades. “We need someone who…is multifaceted, that can do system administration but also introduce new programs and create new business applications.”

— with files from Patricia Pickett

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