Canada Y2K worries blamed for lack of hiring : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Thursday March 23, 2000 Computer experts need jobs Y2K worries blamed for lack of hiring Ken Gray The Ottawa Citizen

Pat McGrath, The Ottawa Citizen / Matt Dumais, president of The Career Agent says jobs for computer consultants involved in business applications has fallen off by 50 per cent over the past few months as major projects were shelved by government and business because of Y2K.

Unemployment or underemployment among business application computer consultants in the Ottawa area is running at about 50 per cent, an expert in the placement field says.

Y2K concerns have so preoccupied government and business that large computer projects have been delayed, leaving many consultants with time on their hands, said Matt Dumais, president of The Career Agent.

While leading-edge developers are in unprecedented demand, about half of the approximately 5,000 business application consultants in the area are suffering from the post-Y2K "malaise" in that segment of the booming industry, Mr. Dumais said.

The Career Agent places professionals in the technology and information field.

"I hope employment will get kick-started by the end of the year," Mr. Dumais said.

Because computer consultants are self-employed, their numbers don't appear on unemployment rolls. Thus, accurate figures for this kind of hidden joblessness are difficult to find.

Nevertheless, placement firms are noticing the lull in employment.

"There is hesitation in new endeavours" that is causing a sag in employment for some consultants, said Anthony Scaletta, sales director at Eagle Professional Resources Inc.

"I don't see a pickup until well into the fall," Mr. Scaletta said. "The procurement process takes time, particularly in government."

Part of the sag in employment is the result of companies and government hiring a large number of people before Jan. 1 in case of a Y2K disaster, Mr. Scaletta said.

"If all hell broke loose, they had the people," Mr. Scaletta said. "But nothing happened here."

As a result, the federal government and a number of companies laid off computer contractors and employees after Jan. 1 when they proved unnecessary, Mr. Scaletta said.

The sales director added that he expects the slump to be only temporary.

"The growth in the information-technology sector is very good," Mr. Scaletta said. "We are just scratching the surface in this field."

Mr. Dumais blames much of the malaise on the federal government, a big consumer of computer technology which, he says, "is dragging its feet on the new economy.

''There is no leadership."

The U.S. government has shown much more commitment to the new economy, Mr. Dumais said.

"It is spending a lot more. This is an opportunity for Canada to excel," Mr. Dumais said.

"We are starting to miss the boat (on the new economy). I'm concerned."

A large part of the lag in hiring computer consultants in the area is the lack of spending on computer technology by federal government, said Mr. Dumais, adding that the federal government needs clear vision, leadership and execution.

"We are just hearing flowery vision statements," he said

The federal government should be working to implement Internet infrastructure improvement and develop coherent high-tech policy, Mr. Dumais said.

Currently, the federal government is lagging behind in its own plans for using the Internet and that, in turn, is slowing computer consultant use in the Ottawa area, he said.

-- Martin Thompson (, March 23, 2000

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