Labor market

Is your job one of the few in high demand?

Adam Pekarsky launched his boutique legal recruiting and consulting firm in the midst of the recession about a year ago, admittedly quite leery of launching in a downturn. As it turned out, his gamble paid off.

"I don't remember a period like the last four months just in terms of the steady volume of in-house [legal] recruiting," Mr. Pekarsky, founding partner of Calgary-based Pekarsky Stein, says. "We are really, really busy."

The legal sector is among those experiencing the highest levels of demand and the trend is expected to continue, according to government statistics and industry forecasts. From litigation lawyers to law clerks, employment in the sector should remain strong.

"Our client audit business is really taking off [and] the consulting side of the business is really taking off," Mr. Pekarsky says, noting a number of local firms are increasingly hiring inhouse legal counsel. "Corporate legal departments, in a period of economic downturn ... bulk up their internal complement. In the last six months...[more] organizations have hired their first general counsel."

Finance and business professionals are also being snapped up. "As we emerge from the recession and things become more stable, companies are looking for ways to improve the efficiencies of their operations ... but they're also wanting to improve the productivity of their teams," Rod Miller, regional vice-president of Western Canada for Robert Half Canada, says.

The trend to efficiency is placing performance and business analysts, as well as controllers and auditors, in high demand.

What began as a very cautious trend toward hiring temporary or contract help is now translating into permanent positions for the most in-demand jobs, he says. "[Hiring managers] got their feet wet for a little while with a temp resource or a consultant, but now we're seeing them take on those roles in a permanent way."

Some business analysts are projected to earn 9.3% salary increases next year, such as enterprise resource planning analysts, to a range of $80,000 to $105,000, while controller and performance analysts are forecast to earn about 5% more than in 2010.

More employment disputes resulted from increased layoffs across the board in most occupations during the recession, boosting the demand for lawyers specializing in employment law, such as Len Polsky, litigation counsel with Mac-Pherson Leslie&Tyerman LLP.

"We see a lot of activity by our clients and the business sector in general," Mr. Polsky says. "In fact, we grew throughout that [recession]."

A wide range of jobs in health care, education, retail and wholesale trade are also showing higher-than-average job shortages, according to Statistics Canada. Specialized jobs related to the environmental sector are also in high demand, as well as senior managers.

(Published by National Post - January 5, 2011)

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