Ottawa association establishes job site

An Ottawa area technology association Tuesday said it has partnered with a major Canadian job site in order to find much needed qualified personnel.

The job market has shifted in recent years, said Jeffrey Dale, president and CEO of the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI). It used to be that a few major companies in the area, like Unisys and Nortel Networks, would hire en masse. These days its more likely to be smaller IT firms – ISVs and start-ups – looking to fill their ranks.

But these small companies, typically those with fewer than 50 employees, are less prone to using conventional channels to find job candidates.

“They’re less likely to place a job ad. They’re more than likely just to go through friends and family and their (social) networks,” said Dale.

One reason may be that hesitant to put it in writing. “We noticed that the companies were still a little be cautious about going out and saying, ‘We’re expanding, we’re growing’ because they didn’t want to set expectations too high,” said Dale.

IT workers in Ottawa have a long memory, he said. Everyone remembers the massive technology layoffs in 2000-2001, and the city was struck particularly hard. To combat any sense of malaise or unease around hiring, OCRI a created a dedicated job site called the OCRI Jobfinder where its 650 members can post listings.

The site is hosted by Working.com, a job site owned by the CanWest Group.

“After a couple of years of a bit of a lull, the (Ottawa) economy is really moving again and technology is growing – in fact so much so that the membership in the Ottawa area is finding that they’re having some challenges is recruiting people with the right skillsets,” said Kim Peters, Working.com’s general manager.

OCRI members will be able to list jobs for free for 28 days – a service that may ordinarily cost them hundreds of dollars, said Dale. They will also receive a 30 per cent discount if they wish to advertise on working.com, which has national reach through its association with CanWest’s newpapers like the Ottawa Citizen and the National Post.

The OCRI job site is being tested on a six-month basis, but Dale is confident that OCRI members will make full use of it. “We’ve talked the (member) companies and we know we’re hitting a sweet spot,” he said.

At press time, there were 29 job listings on the site from a range of Ottawa high-tech companies including Chipworks Inc., PIKA technologies and Liquid Computing Corp. The latter, which makes server technology, is looking to hire a dozen people.

Liquid is “a company that’s growing. They’re desperate for talent right now. They know that talent is key to them,” said Dale.

Working.com has created job sites for other associations, including some in technology but also for nursing, tourism and car dealership associations. Working.com has worked with U.S. organizations as well, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE).

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