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Canada at risk as tech salaries soar, study says

U.S. paycheques are rising faster as skills shortage grows

Karyn Standen The Ottawa Citizen

The high-tech skills shortage in Canada and the U.S. is getting worse, and Canadian companies might be the biggest losers because U.S. firms can offer fatter salaries to attract the cream of the scarce technology talent, a new report says.

The study, Salary Increases, 1997-1999 – Informatics Occupational Skills Streams, was released yesterday by two Ottawa research firms, The Software Human Resource Council and Personnel Systems.

The report says employers in both countries paid technology professionals such as programmers and developers an average of 10 to 12 per cent more in the past two years, beating out average wage increases found in other industrial sectors.

That, the report goes on to say, shows “that both Canada and the U.S. are continuing to experience shortages of highly skilled professionals in the information technology sector É because above-average salaries can be attributed to employers’ needing to attract workers whose skills are in high demand.”

Canada might be at the greatest risk because “IT positions in the U.S. can be seen as becoming increasingly attractive to highly skilled Canadian IT workers, given higher U.S. salaries –paid in U.S. dollars — generous incentive packages, preferential tax treatment and the active promotion of challenging work environments by U.S. firms.”

“We have a problem,” Robyn Gordon, director of communications at the Software Human Resource Council, said of Canadian companies trying to compete with U.S. firms for highly trained technology workers.

While Canadian companies have in the past largely kept pace with high- tech salary increases offered by U.S. firms, U.S. wages for key skills, such as systems development and design, are beginning to outstrip those offered in Canada. That, she says, means “the potential … is there” that Canadian companies might reach a point where they can no longer keep up with U.S. wage increases.

When that might happen is “difficult to predict,” she added.

Even so, Canadian companies must assume the increased costs of trying to match U.S. wages, warned Paul Swinwood, president of the resource council.

“Canada is part of a global economy, and if we’re going to be competing globally, we’ll have to grow in step with the biggest user of these skills, the Americans.”

The study the council called “the first Canada-U.S. salary comparison of its kind,” looked at 24 high-tech occupations, such as systems analyst, developer and programmer.

Mr. Swinwood said more analysis is needed to determine ongoing skills shortage trends.

——– Original Message ——– Subject: Canada at risk as tech salaries soar Date: Thu, 03 Jun 1999 08:57:59 -0700 From: Lina Arseneault To: ex-pats-can [at] cisco [dot] com

Canada at risk as tech salaries soar, study says U.S. paycheques are rising faster as skills shortage grows http://www.ottawacitizen.com/ in Top Stories (Front Page Section)

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