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Canadians more pessimistic than usual about job prospects, salaries in 2015

Darah Hansen
A construction worker uses a hammer as he works on the "ICE Condominiums" development site by Cadillac Fairview and Lanterra Developments in Toronto December 14, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
A construction worker uses a hammer as he works on the "ICE Condominiums" development site by Cadillac Fairview and Lanterra Developments in Toronto December 14, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Looming layoffs in Alberta’s oil sands. Pink slips by the thousands at Target, Sony and Tim Hortons.

All these gloomy headlines are casting a long shadow over the country.

A new employment study by Randstad Canada indicates that jobseekers are more pessimistic than usual about their employment prospects in 2015.

Nearly half of those surveyed (47 per cent) for the Workmonitorstudy said they are bracing for a tougher job market in the year ahead. By comparison, when asked the same questionin 2014, respondents were much less fearful about the year to come with only 31 per cent believing employment would deteriorate.

Much of the despair, particularly among survey respondents in the Western provinces, is tied to the dramatic slowdown in the oil and gas industry.

But, no doubt, the recent, mega shake-ups at other high-profile organizations have also taken a toll on our national psyche.

“It seems to be a bit of a piling-on effect,” says Tom Turpin, president of Randstad Canada.

Silver lining?

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that it’s not all bad news moving forward into 2015.

While there are some segments that have been hit by hard times, others are expected to see an uptick from a lower Canadian dollar and lower cost of fuel.

In Eastern Canada, in particular, this is shaping up to be a banner year for manufacturing, warehousing and logistics.

“Transport costs will be lower and with the strength of the American dollar, our largest exporting partner, Canadian companies will be hiring to meet demand for new orders,” said Turpin.

Randstad Canada expects roles such as mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, warehouse managers and welders to also be a high demand.

Peter Jeewan, head of Lannick Group, a Toronto-based recruitment firm, says the hiring environment continues to ramp up in finance and accounting.

There is heightened demand for expertise in regulatory compliance, taxation, auditing, financial analysis and business systems.

In the IT sector, a migration to mobile platforms across industries is “absolutely driving a significant amount of change in every marketplace,” Jeewan says.

Lannick Group recently released its own report listing the top seven most in-demand jobs for 2015, complete with the anticipated annual salary range. They are:

  • Manager of financial reporting ($80,000-$110,000)

  • Manager of planning and analysis ($85,050-$120,000)

  • Tax manager ($89,067-$143,000)

  • Mobile web developer ($75,000-$110,000)

  • Front-end web developer ($75,000-$98,000)

  • IT security analyst ($85,000-$115,000)

  • Manager of application development ($90,000-$125,000)

Jeewan says employers hoping to compete effectively for talent in today’s market must be willing to offer “substantial” pay increases and more incentives such as the ability to work remotely, flex hours, increased vacation time, tuition reimbursement, on-site parking, RRSP matching and stock options.

“You need to keep investing in your employer brand … and provide an environment that is nurturing and supportive to highly-skilled employees who, for the most part, always have choice,” he says.

Turpin says job seekers who may be discouraged at the moment shouldn’t waste too much time moping.

He’s banking on the oil and gas sector – and the country’s economy as a whole — coming back on track within months.

In the meantime, those searching for employment would do well to take some time to hone their resumes and, if needed, their work skills to better meet market demand.

“There are still thousands of people being hired every month in various roles,” Turpin says.

According to the Lannick Group report, the largest gains in salaries in 2015 are in the finance and accounting sector where increases of 4.79 per cent are predicted. IT salaries aren’t too far behind at 3.45 per cent.

Randstand Canada found that about 60 per cent of Canadians surveyed believed they’d receive a salary increase in Q4 2014 down from 65 per cent the same the year prior.

The Conference Board of Canada’s annual compensation outlook for 2015 reports that employers expect “moderate” base salary increases this year.