Canadian firms resort to temporary workers to fill IT talent gap

Information technology talent hiring will continue to be active in Canada but expect employers be looking for more short-term workers in the next few years, according to a permanent and contract recruitment agency.

Almost three quarters of IT employers in the country have ambitious business plans for 2015 however hiring will be limited to short-term contracts, according to a report from Hays Canada.

Permanent staffing will still grow in 2015. As many as 37 per cent of respondents said permanent staffing levels in their organizations increased in 2014, and nearly half or 47 per cent expect permanent headcount to increase.

Rowan O'Grady, Hays Canada president, IT hiring
Rowan O’Grady

However, 67 seven per cent of IT managers polled by the company perceive a moderate to extreme skill shortage in the industry and more than 50 per cent of hiring managers admitted they used temporary or contract workers last year and about a third expect the practice to increase in 2015.

“What we are seeing is that a lot of employers feel comfortable to bring contractors to fill an IT talent gap or to clear work backlog,” said Rowan O’Grady, president of Hay Canada, in an interview.

He said one indicators of a rising trend toward contract and temporary IT candidate are the rising salaries companies offer temporary workers.

In fact, Hay found that some contract IT roles are paying nearly double than permanent positions, said O’Grady. This has led many IT professionals to prefer surfing from one lucrative but temporary IT position to another, rather than staying put longer with one company.

While contract hiring offers a quick fix, he said there’s a downside to the practice that could impact both employers and IT professionals.

For example, heavy reliance on temporary and contract workers limits the ability of organizations to develop in-house talent and may impact its employee progression and leadership succession strategies in the long run.

For IT professionals, some may be losing out on perks enjoyed by permanent employees such as retirement plans as well as health and other benefits.

“Many contract workers will also find that they’ll need to invest in their own development because companies typically don’t like to pay for the training of temporary workers,” O’Grady said. “While companies normally absorb temporary workers, it’s not likely they would hire a contract worker to fill a leadership role.”

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Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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