Sunday, March 30, 2014

Labour shortage…. or is it just an unwillingness to pay the market rate?

During the negotiations leading up to the 2012 Collective Agreement AMAPCEO President, Gary Gannage told us during a town-hall that the Employer told the bargaining team that “Because of the down-sizing of RIM and other places we are going to be able to get IT folks at a dime a dozen. That’s what they said. I don’t agree with it, but that is what they said. Now that being said, there is no forecast that says that people will be red-circled for five years.  I don’t know how anyone gets that impression.  It is possible that there could be constrained for that period of time.  That being said we are back at bargaining in two years time and we’ll have to find out where things are going to lay at that point.”

Well that point is now.  RIM is still here, albeit a slimmer version, as are most ‘other places’.  Has anything really changed?  Despite the Employer’s disingenuous assertion IT folks are a dime a dozen IT folks are not a dime a dozen, in fact it is quite the opposite. While it may seem intuitive that the rapid growth of both consumer and business technology would make Information and Communications Technology (ICT) one of the most desirable fields for new job-market entrants, Industry Canada data shows that in 2011 the year before the last agreement was signed that the number of ICT workers as a percentage of the total workforce declined from 3.6% in 2002 to 3.3%.  Another research study released 2011 this time by the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) projected an across-the-board increase in demand of 106,000 IT workers in Canada (or about 19%) between 2011 and 2016 with few new market entrants available to fill them.

The Canadian Business Education Partnership, a not-for-profit organization that advocates on key issues impacting career exploration and workforce development cites a 2011 study undertaken by them that indicates Canada will be confronting a shortage of information and communications technology labour over the next five years. The CBEP says that in Ontario, about 51,000 information and communication technologies jobs will need to be filled in the next five years.  Some dime.  Some dozen.

Moreover, in a press release dated October 28th, 2013, the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) and Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) that the reality is that while the ICT industry’s unemployment rate is less than 3% their research shows that over 100,000 critical ICT jobs will need to be filled by 2016.  The report’s author John O’Grady of Prism Economics and Analysis, says too that declining enrolment in post-secondary programs and increased difficulty bringing temporary skilled workers to Canada, those employees will be difficult to find. 
 So now the Employer’s argument that IT folks are a dime a dozen is contradicted by both Industry Canada and empirical studies conducted by industry organisations, yet our Employer continues to pare down the number of internal IT positions. One really has to begin to wonder why.  Clearly the evidence would point towards an argument that IT folks are indeed a scarce resource that should be encouraged to stay within government.
But moving on, the shortage of skilled ICT professionals has not been lost on people such as Chris Alexander, Federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, who in September of 2013 while speaking to attendees at a National Bank of Canada event conveyed his concerns about Canada’s labour shortage.  Alexander pressed business owners to communicate with the government and help raise awareness for the specific skills needed to sustain this country’s labour force.  “Skill shortages are literally on our doorsteps,” he warned. “Let’s not forget how competitive this [immigration] market is … the fierce competition for the most competent people.”  Yet our Employer denies that the reality of the skills shortage in the ICT sector and implies that there is a glut of talented ICT people in the market place - at least to us but to the voting public they are a little less disingenuous and recognize the need and admit to shortages.

As recently as February 19th our own Immigration and Citizenship Minister Michael Coteau said Ontario could set targets for attracting more skilled immigrants.  Couteau then goes on to say the changes would help Ontario lure experts in fields like information technology, where there are shortages, and run a larger program than the one that now brings 100,000 new residents annually.  “We’ve seen skilled immigrants choosing other jurisdictions and other provinces in North America because there are opportunities.” I guess that would happen when you chose not to pay them a fair market salary.

Stepping back two years, in a September 11, 2012 article in the Financial Post, Sharif  Faisal, chief economist for the ICTC  writes “All Employers are being very cautious about giving [pay] raises and holding onto their cash, but that’s not the case for ICT professionals,” “They’re constantly getting raises. They’re 3% higher [today] than what they were getting in January.”  Except of course where the salaries are frozen and if the Employer has their way will remain frozen for another four years.

This all makes me wonder what the real end game is. Is it simply cost cutting?  After all IT folks are amongst the highest paid in the provincial government and therefore an obvious target if you are a bean counter who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Or does this behavior over the last few years point to another scenario?  Perhaps one where the object is for government to get out of the business of employing full time IT folks with the endgame being to hand over the entire operation to third parties such as IBM, HP, or some other large IT outsourcer who will in turn outsource the work to a poorly paid, well educated, workforce in India.  Or is it simply short-sightedness brought on by a looming debt crisis caused on by spend thrift politicians out to garner votes at any cost.

If you are particularly interested in more important discussion about the shortage of skilled information and communication technology (ICT) workers in Canada (Industry Canada (2010) Improving Canada's Digital Advantage; IBM (2012) Fast Track to the Future; and Information and Communications Technology Council (2011), Outlook for Human Resources in the ICT Labour Market, 2011-2016).

Friday, March 7, 2014

Create a Sunshine List for Private Contractors working within the OPS

In a recent Toronto Star Article OPSEU President Smokey Thomas has voiced an idea that many of us with the OPS IT community have been trying to be made heard. The idea is that a equivalent Sunshine List be created for Fee for Service consultants.  The Toronto Star article quotes Smokey as saying that the legislation “doesn't go far enough” and the sunshine list of public servants earning $100,000 a year and up should be expanded to include private contractors working for governments.  Thank you Smokey for unknowingly supporting what many IT workers in AMAPCEO have been talking about. 

The most recent count that we have tells us that there were roughly 1800 Information Technology Fee for Service Consultants working within the OPS during this fiscal year. The projections are that there will be more Fee for Service Consultants hired in the new fiscal year as new business requirements result in new projects that require Information Technology to become reality.  

Lets look at what some Fee for Service Consultants can make using the daily rates set by the Government of Ontario.  I'll use IT Architects as the example because I am one and am most familiar with that group.  Lets annualise those rates over a fiscal year. It becomes readily apparent that the payments to Fee for Service Consultants are much higher than that paid to AMAPCEO represented employees for equivalent services.

Role Min Salary Avg Salary Max Salary Median
Application Architect 1  $      73,515  $     125,071  $     152,945  $     124,722
Application Architect 2  $     104,273  $     156,436  $     198,575  $     156,325
Application Architect 3  $     122,525  $     188,083  $     236,600  $     185,900
Business Architect 1  $      73,515  $     125,229  $     156,832  $     126,750
Business Architect 2  $     104,273  $     156,982  $     194,350  $     158,860
Business Architect 3  $     122,525  $     188,170  $     236,600  $     185,900
Data Architect/Modeller 1  $      73,515  $     120,443  $     152,945  $     118,300
Data Architect/Modeller 2  $      98,020  $     149,459  $     186,238  $     149,143
Data Architect/Modeller 3  $     122,525  $     180,764  $     228,150  $     179,732
Information Architect 1  $      73,515  $     122,949  $     158,860  $     122,525
Information Architect 2  $     104,273  $     153,974  $     194,350  $     152,100
Information Architect 3  $     122,525  $     185,152  $     236,600  $     185,900
Security Architect 1  $      73,515  $     128,132  $     160,550  $     126,750
Security Architect 2  $     104,273  $     161,147  $     202,800  $     160,550
Security Architect 3  $     147,030  $     193,618  $     245,050  $     194,350
Solutions Designer 1  $      73,515  $     113,087  $     147,030  $     114,920
Solutions Designer 2  $      94,978  $     140,910  $     183,872  $     139,425
Solutions Designer 3  $     114,920  $     166,054  $     214,630  $     167,141
Technical Architect 1  $      73,515  $     125,450  $     160,550  $     125,060
Technical Architect 2  $     104,273  $     155,440  $     194,350  $     155,903
Technical Architect 3  $     122,525  $     185,581  $     228,150  $     185,731

It is clear to see from here that almost all the Fee for Service Consultants make it to the Sunshine List if they are paid the minimum rate let alone the average salary.

Just for reference a new employee entering any of those positions will earn at most $99,600 while the Fee for Service person sitting in the next cubicle is making much much more -- without their salary being frozen.  At these pay rates the OPS unionised employee will beat out any Fee for Service Contractor if they were required to compete for work within the OPS.

So I say bring it on!  If the Wynne government wants to be transparent and accountable post the Fee for Service Sunshine List and let the Ontario Tax Payer know exactly how much they are paying for private contractors.  Let the Ontario Tax payer decide where they are getting value for money.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Revitalised Position Strengthens AMAPCEO

As OPS staff and AMAPCEO members we have taken much for granted over the years.  We have had satisfactory pay scales, sufficient vacation days and working conditions have been comfortable.  Up until two years ago, we were all pretty happy and complacent.  We have one person to thank for that quality of working life  – Gary Gannage.  Without Gary, AMAPCEO would not have the strength of its members that we have today.  In 2014, he continues to lead the charge.

But what happens if anything happens to Gary.  It is a question an organization has to answer when so much has been accomplished by one person.  AMAPCEO’s answer is simple - bring the role of Vice President out of the closet. 

I say “bring it out of the closet” because we have the position as part of our constitution but, as a Board of Directors, we have not been utilizing the position in a proactive way.
Utilizing the VP position is simply a smart governance move designed to create a succession planning process that ensures continuity of leadership. But for AMAPACEO,  it was very much a strategic move too.
In the past, AMAPCEO has been a fair amicable partner supporting the challenges faced by our employer. However, given its antics of the last two years, our employer has shown itself as a management group that has changed. No longer is the bargaining process fair or amicable.  For some reason the OPS, as an employer, has taken to not honouring commitments, bargaining in bad faith and taking action that requires AMAPCEO to seek and sometimes take legal action. 
Unfortunately, AMAPCEO has had to strongly push back. Bringing forward the VP position sends a signal that AMAPCEO is changing too. We are no longer the friendly bunch who assumed our employer appreciates what we do as staff. The resurrection of VP position and the changes the Board of Directors made to the job description strengthens its role to be significantly more  active and critical.  The VP role will help make our employer realize that AMAPCEO is unified, prepared and a force to be reckoned with now more than ever. Specifically the VP role held by Sally Pardaens, will be actively involved with or lead:
  • AMAPCEO Central Employee Relations Committee (ACERC) 
  • Job Evaluation Joint Steering Committee and Job Evaluation Appeals Committee 
  • Joint Benefits Review Committee (when required as Association spokesperson). The Joint Benefits Review committee is a bilateral committee, consisting of an equal number of AMAPCEO and Management Board of Cabinet (MBS) representatives, established under the Collective Agreement to deal with issues such as the adjudication of benefit denials, monitoring of carrier performance, communication regarding group health plans and other matters related to benefits.
  • Classification Review Sub-Committee (when required as Association spokesperson). The Classification Review sub-committee is a panel consisting of equal representation of three (3) Association representatives and three (3) Employer representatives convened to review classification matters that remain in dispute after being reviewed by the Enterprise Classification Unit (ECU).
  • Article 27 Committee (when required as Association spokesperson) A committee established under Article 27 – Dispute Resolution of the Collective Agreement it hears any complaint concerning Article 27A may be referred by either party to the Article 27A Committee composed of a minimum of three (3) representatives of each party, and a maximum of five (5)
  • Meetings of all bargaining agents with the Employer. 
The expanded duties will include working closely with the Board of Directors, the new Chief Administrative Officer (to be hired in the few months) and senior AMAPCEO staff to develop policies and procedures to effectively and efficiently realize our strategic and operating plans. This close working relationship will further ensure that AMAPCEO safeguards its values and meets established goals and priorities. 
The revised job function will see Sally be responsible for developing and strengthening the various Chapters, AMERCs, and the ERCs.  This expanded role will help the Association strengthen the grassroots leadership so important for developing our leadership pipeline.
As a member of AMAPCEO, you will see Sally at committee and membership meetings including mobilisation meetings.  Part of her role as VP is the 2014 mobilisation efforts freeing up the President so he can focus his efforts on the current round of Collective Bargaining and the day to day running of the Association.  
Equally important, Sally will now accompany Gary or attend on his behalf, all meetings with senior government officials including but not limited to political leaders or Deputy and Assistant Deputy Ministers. This is an extremely important change in the role of the Vice President in as much sends a very strong message that while our leadership roles have expanded, AMAPCEO  leadership is united and acts as one.
Click comments and leave a congratulatory message for Sally. She’s IN it for you.