Optimism rises among Canadian IT workers … pay raises likely for some

While hiring at many Canadian firms will be slow this summer, industry insiders say IT personnel in certain positions are likely to get pay raises. They include application developers, database managers and top tech support personnel.

“Canadian employers are indicating they will expand their payroll but at a weaker pace than in the previous quarter,” reports Lori Rogers, vice-president, staffing services at Manpower Canada.

A Manpower Employment Outlook survey of 1,900 Canadian employers indicates hiring will remain “mild” from July to September.Just 16 per cent of respondents plan on increasing payroll in the third quarter of 2009.

Seventy per cent of employers say they will maintain their current workforce, 11 per cent anticipate hiring cutbacks, and three per cent remain unsure of their hiring intentions for the coming quarter.

The Net Employment Outlook is a “subdued” decline of minus three per cent for the third quarter of 2009, compared to the one per cent decline recorded in the previous three months. While that’s not exactly great news, the numbers don’t bode badly for a sector hoping for an early recovery, industry insiders say.

The hiring environment in Canada isn’t as dismal as was earlier expected, according to Rod Miller, regional vice-president at staffing firm Robert Half Technology in Calgary. “I see a lot of optimism in the IT sector.”

Overall companies aren’t reducing IT staff as much as they are hiring, he said. The findings of Robert Half’s poll of more than 270 Canadian CIOs correspond closely with those of the Manpower survey.

Robert Half asked the CIOs about their hiring intentions for the second quarter of the year.

Twelve per cent are planning to add IT staff and about 78 per cent plan on keeping existing personnel, Miller noted. A mere three per cent or so are planning staff cuts , while the rest are still unsure.

The Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report estimated the net hiring increase for the second quarter of 2009 at 11 per cent, compared to 13 per cent for the previous quarter.

The top three reasons given by CIOs for hiring are: high or increased IT workloads, routine hiring and corporate growth. Key reasons cited for staff reductions were: company-wide layoffs and the slumping economy.

Where to find jobs

The hiring climate in Atlantic Canada and Quebec are ahead of the national forecast, according to Rogers of Manpower.

The Manpower survey indicates that Atlantic Canada has the most favourable net employment outlook of 18 per cent, while for Quebec employers it’s 10 per cent, for the third quarter. In Ontario, net employment outlook is a modest four per cent, while in Western Canada its estimated to be around three per cent.

Skills in demand

Many Canadian companies are hesitant to add IT staff until they’re more certain about the timing of an economic recovery,” according to Sandra Lavoy, vice-president for Robert Half.

She said managers are watching budgets closely.Lavoy said skills in Windows Administration for server 2000 and 2003 are highly sought in many IT departments and networking is a job category now enjoying growth.

Of CIO’s polled by Robert Half: 60 per cent were looking for Windows administrators; 56 per cent sought network administrators skilled in Cisco and Nortel systems; and 58 per cent needed desktop support personnel and database managers with experience in Oracle, SQL Server and DB2. (The survey allowed for multiple responses). Here are nine most sought-after IT skills for 2009.

What employers will pay

A smaller pool of highly-skilled candidates for tech positions, coupled with fewer college graduates in IT-related studies make it difficult for employers to hire and retain people,” according to Rogers of Manpower.Rogers said IT salaries are expected to increase by 4.3 per cent by next year. Find out what your skills are worth with the Computerworld Salary Calculator 

Rogers said the following are top 3 IT positions currently in demand and their corresponding salary ranges:

Application Architect/Developer – Companies will continue to invest in a wide range of key applications that will provide them with a competitive business edge. Application architects can expect to see starting salary ranges from $83,250 to $107, 750 by next year.

Database manager- Interoperable database systems, now deployed in many businesses, are responsible for placing at a premium IT professionals who can manage efficiently these systems. The salary range for dataset managers is expected to reach $81,000 to $116,000.

Technical support – As companies implement a wider range of technologies, the role of the IT support professional has gained importance. Base compensation for Tier 2 help desk professionals is projected to range from $41,250 to $53,750.

Check out the Top IT skills that could get you more money in a recession

Job hunt tools

IT specialists depend a great deal on personal contacts and are increasingly using Internet-based tools to land preferred IT, positions, according to Gabriel Bouchard, president of online career service site Workopolis.com.

Workopolis recently launched NicheNetwork, a specialized association and job board network that will help employers reduce the time they spend tracking down desirable candidates on job boards.

The online tool has a search and match feature that enables employers to set specific criteria regarding job skills and experiences they need. The tool has a filter that automatically ranks applicants based on posted criteria.

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