By Jim Day
One hour in, two “potential candidates’’ for employment had made their way to the CGI booth at the Innovation Technology (IT) Job Fair in the Atlantic Technology Centre in Charlottetown.
Marsha Fraser was doing recruiting for CGI, one of the 16 IT companies with about 100 job openings in the offing taking part in the seventh annual job fair.
She sized up as promising having a couple early prospects just a short time into the five-hour long IT Job Fair co-ordinated by the Innovation and Technology Association of Prince Edward Island (ITAP).
“That’s really good to be honest with you,’’ said Fraser.
Fraser and other recruiters were seeing a lot of students and early entry candidates Wednesday either looking for immediate employment or seeking input to improve their job prospects after furthering their education.
She says CGI, which employs about 70 people in P.E.I., draws close to 20 per cent of its employees through referrals. Forty per cent comes through applications and CGI recruiting via job fairs and job boards.
Susan Frizzell, HR administrator with DeltaWare, says the company has only hired about one person from each of the last two job fairs. The largest avenue for hiring by DeltaWare is referrals.
Still, Stephen Pilkington, 29, of Charlottetown likes the job fair set-up as a way to possibly get his foot in the door.
“I came here as soon as they opened the door,’’ he said.
“It’s a great opportunity to speak directly to recruiters.’’
Unlike many of the other job seekers Wednesday, though, Pilkington has plenty of work experience in the IT sector.
He spent 10 years working as a systems analyst in Toronto for Sprint Canada, Rogers Communication and ADP.
He sees the IT industry growing in P.E.I.
“There is just a hotbed of knowledge and activity here,’’ said Pilkington.
Mike Gillis, innovation director with ITAP, says plenty of competition exists among people seeking work in the IT sector.
Gillis says there are over 1,400 people employed in more than 100 IT companies in P.E.I. while 2,100 to 2,200 are woking in IT provincially when including workers in other sectors and government.
“The IT sector of P.E.I. is well integrated with other strategic and growing industries such as biosciences and aerospace and defence,’’ he said.
The greatest demand in the IT sector on P.E.I., adds Gillis, is to fill programming and developer positions - jobs pulling in salaries between $40,000 and $70,000.
Business analyst positions are also in greater demand in the province with those jobs coming with salaries of $50,000 to $80,000.
Project management is also “a hot market’’ in IT with positions fetching $55,000 to $85,000 per year.
Gillis says the Computer Information Systems program at Holland College is a good local source of employees in the innovation technology sector.
He concedes companies here face a challenge competing against off-Island companies in recruiting mid- to high- level people.
He adds some “poaching’’ also takes place within the IT sector.
Fraser says one carrot in enticing innovation technology workers to take employment in P.E.I. is the offer of “work-life balance’’ highlighted by short commutes and relaxed lifestyle.