IT job market sizzles across Canada

Canada’s IT job market has picked up dramatically and in many ways is reminiscent of the hiring extravaganza of the dot com years.

“The past two quarters are the strongest we’ve seen in our 25 years of operation,” says Terry Power, president of CNC Global, a Toronto-based IT recruiting firm. “We are seeing more demand today than we did during the dot-com and Y2K eras.”

CNC recently released a report tracking hiring trends and overall demand across Canada over the past 12 months. The report was based on an analysis of staffing requests from several hundred client companies.

While overall demand for IT professionals is strong across the board, there are some regional differences in the top four cities: Calgary, Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver.

Fuelled by oil revenues, Calgary’s job market is more than hot, it’s sizzling: demand has grown more than 100 per cent during the past 12 months.

But in IT, Toronto still reigns supreme.

Around half of CNC Global’s overall job requests are for staff in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Power says Toronto’s IT job market is the third largest in North America, with New York and San Francisco occupying first and second place.

Montréal also saw a 34 per cent surge in demand for IT jobs, driven primarily by demand in the financial services sector and Québec-based system integrators. “This increase is not coming at the expense of Toronto. We’re seeing a shift away from infrastructure positions in Montréal to demand for Web-based customer applications,” says Power.

Demand for IT professionals in Vancouver has grown by 27 per cent, mainly fuelled by the need for application developers, ERP specialists and mainframe developers.

“There is a lot of hiring in mining, forestry and other companies in the traditional resource sector, and Vancouver’s high-tech sector has also rebounded,” explains Power.

Across Canada, demand for permanent IT staff has increased 44 per cent, and this category accounts for about a third of overall demand for staff. Vancouver leads the pack, with demand for permanent positions jumping 124 per cent in the past 12 months.

This is a net gain, as there has not been an associated decrease in demand for contract staff, says Power. “Demand for contract staff remains steady,” he says. “There are many IT projects under way at our clients and they need a lot of staff. Companies tend to hire full-time staff when the economy is strong and companies are confident about the long term.”

While infrastructure positions remain a key driver, this category has declined as a percentage of overall demand. Companies have been experiencing a budgetary drought for the last few years, but funds are flowing again.

“Many of our clients found themselves in years four and five of a three-year hardware cycle and they really needed to get on with upgrades, so demand has been strong for infrastructure staff for the last 18 months,” says Power. “But it would be fair to say that now appears to be under control, and budgets are being devoted to customer-facing applications.”

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For more on Canada’s IT job market don’t miss our IT Labour Market Special: What’s hot, what’s not we’ve put together especially for you.

Related link:Find IT Careers here

Related article:Employers clamouring for IT-business ‘combo’ skills

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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