An index to measure IT job opportunities in Canada suggests that, despite a summer lull, there is currently more work available now than there was this time last year.
The Advanced Technology Employment index, a joint project from the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and job site Monster.ca, attempts to measure fluctuations in job activity based on actual online job listings.
Monster.ca is responsible for the data collection, which is culled from available online job data, including that which is posted on Monster.ca itself. “We call all major job sites in Canada to see how much job postings change online – not just Monster, also niche sites where appropriate,” explained Monster.ca spokesperson Rikke Wivel, based in Montreal.
The project started a year ago – a minimum of 12 months is required to establish a baseline job index of 100 – and Monster.ca recently began to issue its findings through its association with Ottawa-based CATA.
Between the months of June and July of this year, the index dipped four points, but based on year over year data from 2005 to 2006, it has actually risen 23 points, or 23 per cent.
“It’s a bit of a trap when you look at it month to month. That’s why it’s important to look at it over a longer time period,” explained CATA president John Reid.
The outlook is generally bright for the IT job market, said Reid, but a closer examination of the numbers reveals that some employment areas may be brighter than others. Recruitment is trending weaker in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and sciences, for example, than jobs for consulting services and telecommunications.
In some cases, said Reid, consulting jobs aren’t being filled due to a lack of qualified workers. “There’s going to be some fairly significant skill gaps – both in the technical and management level. As people retire early in our flat world, there’s a lot more competition for similar skills,” he said.
Reid emphasized the importance of a continual education for IT workers – one that combines learning in technical, business and soft skills.
“Having a tech skill is good, but having a tech skill where you bring in training with communication skills, team skills and flexibility is even more critical now,” he said. “You always find workers that think they have the skill sets, but if you’ve been out of the market for one or years, you could face a mismatch.”
The Advanced Technology Employment index also measures jobs by province. The top six provinces in terms of online job postings are: Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Manitoba. In the last month, the Atlantic provinces demonstrated strong increases in job listings. Quebec experienced a decrease while Ontario has held steady.
Jobs most in demand are high-end skills, such as software developer jobs, said Reid, particularly as they apply to the development of brand new or completely innovative technology.
Reid added that CATA is currently putting together resources that would help employers find qualified personnel, both here and overseas, in order to promote and advance the Canadian IT sector.
“That’s really our end game here. We want to organize that set of tools and resources that bridge supply and demand,” said Reid.