Companies competing for IT talent

With a stronger economy, hiring the right people for IT positions could be difficult, as companies scramble to meet the demand of expanding their IT departments to accommodate new technology coming out everyday.

Companies are seeing an “increased workload (34 per cent), installation of new enterprise-wide applications (23 per cent), increased customer/end user support (15 per cent) and organizational growth (14 per cent),” according to a study commissioned by Sapphire and IBM Canada Ltd.. The survey also said the most desirable candidates will be those with skills in cloud computing, security and collaboration. With this expectation, the most desirable individual would have to be multifaceted encompassing all those skills.

Over half of companies in Canada are going to increase their IT departments according to a study on IT hiring trends for Canada in 2011.

“Although some believe that the talent pool is deep today, it is actually quickly getting shallow and the IT industry needs to know how to swim in these changing waters,” said David Litherland, employment expert from Summit Search Group BC.

The IT job market is very competitive because it is hard to find qualified people, according to Scott Michaels, vice-president of client services at Atimi Software.

“There are a lot of new entrants into the IT sector from Web development; there are a lot of novices with very little skills,” he said.

Some of the older and more established firms are not able to acquire the most qualified IT people because they are not offering competitive wages or benefits to compete with other companies. A company needs to research how much other companies are paying their IT people to ensure that it offers equivalent wages at least or some other incentive like flexible work hours or benefits to attract qualified candidates, according to Litherland. Another way a company can attain better IT employees is by accelerating their hiring process.

“Some organizations have not adapted to today’s market, they live in the past, where people wanted to work for them, but now there is a lot of competition for people,” Litherland said.

Atimi is a small software company in Vancouver with 80 employees. The company specializes in the creation of apps for the iPhone and it went into business in 2001. So far, the company has created about 40 apps for Apple Inc,. including apps for Etch-a-Sketch and the New York Times. When looking for new employees, the software company is specifically interested in those who are mobile developers and who have created apps themselves for iPhones. Atimi searches for candidates with knowledge of Mac programming. Potential employees have to have extensive programming experience for Mac desktops or the iPhone, according to Michaels. Atimi is now looking for people who can create apps for Android or BlackBerry phones, he said.

To counter the problem of a lack of qualified individuals, Atimi goes to universities with classes and hires some individuals right out of school, use recruiters, and looks outside of the Vancouver area, he said.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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