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Monday, June 7, 2004

Survey of Information Technology Occupations


The economic downturn in the high-tech sector in 2001 was so severe that most companies virtually stopped hiring new employees, according to first results of the Survey of Information Technology Occupations. As a result, most employees were holding on to their existing jobs.

Data show that about four out of every five information technology (IT) employers (or 81%) did not hire any employees during the six months before the survey was conducted in late 2002. In fact, in the public sector, 85% of IT employers reported that they didn't have any jobs to fill, nor did 93% of their counterparts in the private sector.

Only a small fraction of companies did any hiring in the six months prior to the survey. For example, just 16% of companies in computer systems design in the private sector hired one employee, and only 4% hired three or more. In the federal government, only 12% of employers hired one individual, and only 2% hired three or more.

This apparent stability in the IT sector followed a collapse in demand in 2001 for high-tech products and services that led to a number of high-profile layoffs.

At the peak of the high-tech boom in the first quarter of 2001, computer and telecommunications industries employed 650,000 people, according to the Labour Force Survey. A year later, this had dropped by a tenth to 586,000, and the unemployment rate in the sector had jumped from 3.9% to 6.6%. After this sharp decline in 2001, employment in high-tech industries stabilized somewhat in 2002 and into 2003, according to the Labour Force Survey.

As a result, many employers in 2002 were preoccupied with keeping their company afloat, while many employees were worrying about holding onto their jobs.

In the private sector, employees had been holding onto their jobs since four out of every five employees (84%) reported that they had held their current position for more than one year. Overall, employees in the IT sector reported as of late 2002, they had been working at their job for four years on average. Among employees in public administration in the provinces and territories, the average was slightly higher at 4.8 years. In the federal public administration, it was slightly lower, at 3.8 years.

Note: The national Survey of Information Technology Occupations, conducted in 2002 on behalf of the Software Human Resource Council (SHRC), is the first to shed light on the IT labour market in both the public and private sectors. IT employers and employees were surveyed separately, but simultaneously. The employer survey consisted of questions on occupation profile, hiring and recruitment, employee retention, and training and development. The employee survey had questions on the occupational history of IT employees, salary, education, training, and skills. The target population consisted of private-sector locations with at least six employees, and with at least one employee working in IT, as well as public-sector divisions with at least one IT employee.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 2939.

For more information on the survey, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Lucie Cloutier (613-951-1634;, Small Business and Special Surveys Division.

The SHRC intends to produce five reports in late 2004. The reports will contain information on skills; education and training; hiring and retention; income and working conditions; and occupational profiles for Canada and regions. For more information on the reports, contact Lee Jacobs (613-237-8551 ext.146;, Software Human Resource Council.

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Date Modified: 2004-06-07 Important Notices