IT hiring in Canada stable, growing in 2012: Survey

Upgrades and refreshes of business technologies are helping keep hiring projections for Canadian IT jobs stable with healthy signs of growth, particularly in areas such as project management, business analysis, and infrastructure management, according to survey results released by recruitment firm Randstad Technologies and IBM Canada on Tuesday.

The survey, based on approximately 200 responses, indicated 49 per cent will hire IT staff in 2012, while another 41 per cent will maintain current levels. Other drivers of increased IT hiring included internal company integration, according to 37 per cent of those surveyed, followed by IT security, collaboration and cloud computing. More than 60 per cent will be looking at infrastructure skills. Thirty-five per cent said the technical project managers were most in-demand, followed by server virtualization specialists at 33 per cent and network architects at 29 per cent.

Randstad Technologies president Mike Winterfield said hiring went down sharply in the last quarter of 2011, but since then the trend has reversed itself. Economic uncertainty may have made many firms cautious, but not necessarily at the executive level, he said.

“While many people were unsure with how things were going to start off this year, when I look at both our contract and permanent placement positions, so far in 2012 we are well ahead of typical averages,” he said. “When you look at demand over past quarters, it’s up anywhere from 10 to 15 per cent.”

Although recessions tend to see companies put more emphasis on contract hires in IT departments, Winterfield said permanent positions are beginning to rebound, albeit slowly.

“If you look at long-term hiring trends in Canada from our statistics, we haven’t even recovered from the peak of permanent demand from 2007,” he said. “While we saw huge growth in 2010 and 2011 over 2008-2009 . . . we still haven’t seen a full recovery. That’s because we haven’t seen what many of us would consider a normal and stable economy.”

Even if Canadian companies don’t have any tech jobs open, that doesn’t mean their current IT teams will be standing pat.

“There’s no new hiring this year, but we’ll see a redeployment and an expansion in certain roles,” said Jamie Fata, acting CIO of Sault College of Applied Arts & Technology. Fata, who has a staff of 22, said he sees greater potential in training around established technology frameworks and best practices. “We’ll be going to things that are more standards-based, more ITIL-based.”

Those companies that do post Canadian tech jobs may have to be more open-minded about the candidates they meet, Winterfield said. Requesting a laundry-list of IT certification and decades of experience won’t be realistic in the current market if the business climate improves.

“Back in 2009-2010, we had very picky clients,” he said. “In 2011, the behavior started to change again, because there was growth. Most successful companies last year started to become in tune that they were again competing for top talent and started being more realistic and flexibile.”

 More than a third of the survey respondents said they were looking for IT staffers with skills in .Net or Java, the top two areas of interest for the 48 per cent who said they will be hiring application developers in 2012. Use of global sourcing services has also increased from one third of respondents in previous surveys to almost half of Canadian companies.

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