SAP Labs Canada Thursday announced it will double the number of developers in its Montreal-based research and development centre, for a total of 200.

“Montreal is playing a role in this big picture,” said Laure Le Bars, managing

director, SAP Labs Canada. “We have people who have good education and Canada is a good place to be.”

SAP is in the midst of a global hiring spree, announcing last week that it would hire 3,000 new software developers.

SAP Labs Canada, which opened in 1998 and specializes in customer relationship management development, is part of SAP’s global development network that also includes offices in Bulgaria, China, France, India, Israel, Japan and the United States. The centre also works on the integration of new technologies like RFID into basic business processes such as ERP. Le Bars said, for example, the Frankfurt airport is using RFID technology to help its technicians track the ventilation system through their PDA devices.

To accommodate the new hires, which are expected to be completed by year-end, the centre will add 2,000 square metres to its existing 5,000 square metres of office space located in Montreal’s Multimedia City.

The new employees will work on developing applications based on SAP flagship product mySAP Business Suite and integration and application platform SAP NetWeaver for various industries including retail, finance, utilities and public services. They will also work with SAP xApps and a variety of business mandates and projects for customers.

The SAP hires follow an announcement earlier this week by game developer Ubisoft that it would create 1,000 new positions in its Montreal division.

“We have seen the employment growing in the last six months by 25,000 jobs in Canada,” said the president of Ottawa-based Software Human Resource Council (SHRC) Paul Swinwood in response to the announcements. “What we’re starting to come to is once again a tight labour market as employers are starting to have trouble finding people.”

Vice-president of the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) Barry Gander said he’s also noticed that the industry has picked up recently.

“The industry has turned a corner and is now clipping along at the kind of growth pace it used to have before we got that false spike in the dot-com era,” said Gander. “We’ve resumed that upward growth path.”

Le Bars said SAP Labs Canada is looking for people with project and development management experience but is also considering recent university grads to fill junior roles within the company.

“It could be local, if they have the qualifications,” said Le Bars. “If they’re able to do the job, we don’t care where they come from.”

However, Swinwood said while a recent Statistics Canada survey shows the rate of unemployment among IT workers is the lowest it has been in four years, many people don’t have the skillset required to fulfill the job requirements.

“There are still a significant number of unemployed technical workers, especially here in Ottawa, whose skills were specific to the telecom sector and who need significant re-skilling to be employable in something like the graphics market in Montreal,” said Swinwood, adding people are now needed to implement IT.

“The major problem is how to take a 1990s-skilled telecom developer and turn them into the new graphics and gaming person.”

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