IT professionals might have some of the most in-demand careers in Canada, but that doesn’t mean employers are treating them that way, according to the latest Hays Canada Salary Guide.

Released Thursday, the eighth annual release of international staffing firm Hays plc’s survey of Canadian salaries found that while Canada’s IT workers were typically well compensated compared to other professions, only 41 per cent felt their salaries were competitive with market rates.

The company’s salary data backed this sentiment up, with Hays finding that IT employers were increasing salaries at below-average rates, and that more than a third were offering no increases at all – a 40 per cent higher rate than average.

The report’s authors noted this trend could be changing, however, with one-third of IT employers telling Hays they expected to increase salaries by more than three per cent next year, a 28 per cent higher rate than average.

“IT professionals remain some of the most in-demand candidates in Canada, especially those with expertise in development, security, cloud, or big data,” the report’s authors wrote. “There is a lot of competition nationwide.”

In fact, IT saw the highest business activity increase of any sector that Hays studied, with 64 per cent of respondents saying the industry expanded in 2017 – a 33 per cent increase over last year.

IT employers also saw one of the highest rates of headcount increases in 2017, the authors noted, with 18 per cent more employers expanding their ranks compared to 2016, and that number is expected to climb even higher next year.

Though the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC)’s recent assertion that Canada will need to fill approximately 216,000 technology-related positions by 2021 isn’t mentioned, the report’s authors note that as tech hubs such as Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal have experienced growth there has been a pronounced gap between company needs and candidate experience.

“With hiring expectations much higher than most sectors, IT employers will continue to be challenged by the nationwide skills shortage,” the report’s authors write. “Candidates with the most up-to-date skillsets can demand a premium.”

In the end, the Hays researchers offer a few tips to both employers and employees, encouraging IT workers to branch into new skill sets to avoid becoming siloed or obsolete – “the right IT skills can demand a premium, but those skills won’t be the same in five years,” they write – and warning employers to offer competitive salaries, at least meet the market rate.

“In a highly competitive space a salary band below market expectations will seriously hinder your hiring prospects,” they write.

For some other highlights from the IT section of Hays 2018 Salary Guide, you can check out the infographic below (click for a larger version).

For more detailed information, such as typical salary ranges for various positions including business intelligence, cloud infrastructure, development, enterprise resource planning, and management, Hays will be releasing the guide itself here in January 2018.

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