Survey to bring broadened IT picture into focus

Faced with a IT employment profile that has been expanded from three to 25 different jobs, the Software Human Resource Council (SHRC) and Statistics Canada this fall will begin a national

survey to determine just who does what in IT.

“”We’ve never had a survey for 25 occupations in the field,”” said Lucie Cloutier, the Statscan project manager for the national survey. “”They (managers) have been able to say ‘I have four CS’s’. But now we have to classify them in 25 occupations.””

CS stands for computer scientist, a general term for IT employees used in the public sector, whose IT picture will for the first time be thoroughly surveyed this fall. The public sector, Cloutier said, accounts for 10 per cent of Canada’s IT workers.

“”It’s not easy to survey the public sector,”” she said. “”You need to sample very large organizations, and they’re not homogeneous.””

Cloutier said the public sector surveys will be done at the divisional level, “”the closest level where the manager can know the employee well.””

The survey, which will be announced on Sept. 8 at Softworld 2002 in Charlottetown and run through May 2003, is part of a multi-year IT monitoring initiative joining the SHRC, Statscan and the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC). Other components of the initiative include the expansion of job titles, monthly labour force statistics and case study interviews.

With the skills shortage debate having ebbed somewhat — in part due to job cuts at tech heavyweights like Nortel Networks Ltd. — the new survey will look at the jobs themselves. This includes which areas of IT employees are working in, what training requirements are and from what other fields people are emigrating to IT.

“”There’s are fair percentage of job changes involved,”” said SHRC spokesperson Dagmar Horsman. “”The focus now is more on where the employment is, where the jobs are.””

For sure, surveying was an easier job when IT jobs were simply classified as either computer analyst, computer programmer or computer operator. The new survey will divide IT workers into one of 25 categories, everything from database administration to network support to informatics consultancy. Statscan will survey 35,000 IT employees and 23,000 employers.

“”It’s going to be a lot of information on employment, skills, employment retention, employee needs and employer needs,”” Cloutier said. “”There’s no tool in Canada as detailed as we’re going to have with this one.””

Cloutier said she expects the results to be released sometime in the fall of 2003.

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