Deloitte survey says IT firms ready to hire

A recent survey by Deloitte indicates Canadian technology companies are looking to hire, but one recruiter says that may be overly optimistic.

Deloitte recently completed a survey of the Technology Fast 500, the firm’s ranking of the fastest-growing technology companies in North America. Of

the 200 CEOs that responded (including 19 from Canada), 85 per cent indicated they were planning to hire staff over the next year.

The high-tech sector has enjoyed a period of renewed faith borne by revenue growth, said Garry Foster, national director of the technology, media and telecommunications group for Deloitte Canada. That has translated into a need for more staff, he added.

“”There’s no doubt there’s been a turnaround in the tech sector. VC money is starting to go back in, IPOs (Initial Public Offerings) are starting – good IPOs . . . Companies are starting to grow.””

The biggest growth areas in terms of the technology hiring market are sales and marketing, and research and development, Foster said. Unlike a few years ago, where highly-qualified workers with technology skills were hard to come by, there’s currently a shortage of experienced marketing professionals, he argued. As sales grow, so will the need to fill those kinds of jobs.

“”There’s no doubt that everything we were trying to do in the late ’90s is now starting to arrive,”” said Foster, citing the example of Waterloo, Ont.-based Research in Motion, which has seen consistent revenue growth in recent years.

However, it is difficult to get a true appraisal of the Canadian job economy given the recent rash of outsourcing: some Canadian job opportunities are being lost to other countries as companies shift work to places such as India. Nortel Networks, for example, announced earlier this year it will divest the majority of its manufacturing facilities – including product integration, testing and repair – to Singapore-based Flextronics.

Alternatively, there are Canadian jobs that are being created by American firms that move work North to take advantage of the Canadian dollar.

“”I don’t believe that Canada has been the net loser in that situation,”” said Foster.

Herbert Hess, headhunter and president of Toronto-based Hess Associates Executive Search, argued there isn’t enough evidence to suggest a hiring boom is just around the corner.

“”We’re not getting calls from . . . the high-tech companies,”” he said. “”There is some change, but not a huge amount of change. I know of maybe a half a dozen companies that are looking for country managers in Canada . . . but that’s not a lot.””

Some of the apparent growth in hiring could simply be from a redistribution of jobs, he argued: larger IT firms in Canada contracting out work to smaller firms.

“”Don’t forget, smaller companies of let’s say 50 or 100 people are not going to add another 50 or 100, they’re going to add another five or 10 people maximum. It’s not going to affect the marketplace that dramatically,”” said Hess.

Hess added that he hasn’t see much hiring in human resources – the first and often best indicator that more hires are coming down the road.

According to the Deloitte Fast 500 survey, respondents see life sciences and wireless as the two biggest growth markets in the next 12 months. The survey also reported that the two greatest threats to technology sector growth are “”limited access to capital”” (27 per cent) and “”global terrorism”” (22 per cent).

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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