In recent years, the IT job market has been racked by cycles of boom and bust, with demand for hot IT skills flaring and fizzling. The nature and composition of the IT sector is changing, and there are many factors to consider to gain a real understanding of the outlook for 2005 and beyond.
Many are under the impression that there is less demand for IT staff nowadays. But this perception is wrong. According to Industry Canada, employment in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector has seen three consecutive quarters of growth since mid-2004, with a gain of 0.3 per cent reported in the first quarter of 2005. This compares favourably with the more modest 0.1 per cent growth reported in overall employment during the same period. However, ICT sub-sectors are expanding and contracting at different rates: employment fell by 5.6 per cent in computer equipment manufacturing, for example, while software publishing grew by 3.4 per cent.The IT sector has not died, it has changed radically. Paul Swinwood>Text The varying rates of expansion and contraction signify that the IT sector is in flux. “The IT sector has not died, it has changed radically. Employment is in places where the application of IT is happening rather than its invention,” says Paul Swinwood, president of the Software Human Resources Council (SHRC), a not-for-profit council dedicated to the Canadian IT sector.
Interpreting all the different lines to see where demand in the IT sector is heading in three years is a challenge, he says. “I believe we’ll be in a tight labour market then, and we’ll have companies scrambling to find people.”
Gabriel Bouchard, vice-president and general manager of online job board Monster Canada, echoes Swinwood’s sentiments. “We’re seeing all the symptoms we saw in 1997-98, when the job market was tight, reappear now,” says Bouchard. The number of IT positions posted by employers on Monster.ca increased 47 per cent from August 2004 to June 2005, while the number of r