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 Post subject: PEI IT JOBS?
PostPosted: October 9th, 2008, 8:08 pm 
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Almost an Islander

Joined: November 27th, 2006, 4:09 pm
Posts: 388
From todays Guardian, what a joke. The majority of so called IT jobs in PEI are call center jobs paying $10-12 an hour. Sure, it is cheaper to "live" here but if you have to commute any distance to work at all, you pretty much have to have a reliable vehicle or car pool. Car pooling is great as long as you have people to join you, sometimes your options are pretty limited. I have IT training, 3+ years working experience in a technical support atmosphere, and yet the sales job I currently work in pays substantially better and I did no formal training to get this job. Are these 900 new jobs coming going to pay any better then the current ones? Sure there are some good paying IT positions here, but they are few and far between, and lets face it, the identical position in other provinces pays substantially better, even factoring in the cost of living. I have thought of going back to school to further my IT education, but I am wondering if it is really worth it.

Quote:
Prince Edward Island’s information technology (IT) sector is facing a bit of a job crisis.
There are 2,100 IT workers in the province at present but the need will possibly swell to nearly 3,000 within five years. The problem is that the labour force isn’t churning out enough to meet the demand.
It was a subject of much discussion Wednesday during a labour force human resources forum in Charlottetown.
“It’s challenging. There is a high demand in certain areas for sure, particularly in the intermediate and senior level,’’ said Mike Gillis, executive director of the Innovation and Technology Sector Council of P.E.I.
The level Gillis speaks of requires experience and the challenge is in providing that experience.
“That’s where the highest demand is so that offers quite a challenge because we want to train more people in IT. We want to put more through our local IT programs but we need for (people) to enter the workforce immediately and get skills.’’
Defining what an IT person does varies, depending on the job — analysts, programmers and web graphic designers are among the job titles.
The IT Sector Council of P.E.I. went out and commissioned a local firm, MacPherson Roche Smith & Associates (MRSA), to formulate a labour market strategy. The goal was to develop strategies to help strengthen the skills of the workforce within the IT industry as well as increase the flow of suitably trained people into the IT workforce.
Crystal Trevors-Lavellee, a senior consultant with MRSA, said the purpose of the study was to identify the supply of IT workers on the Island and to compare that to what the demand from employers was.
“Our surveys indicated over the last 24 months that employers were having significant challenges in filling many of their positions and, over the next 24 months, they are also expecting to hire 69-plus employees,’’ said Trevors-Lavellee.
She said the industry is going to have to find ways of offering prospective employees competitive compensation packages to attract workers.
“There is a wage disparity and that has to be addressed in order for us to be able to meet our demands for IT workers.’’
She estimates there will be a need for anywhere between 210 and 620 workers over the next five years.
“Local colleges and universities are probably not producing enough IT workers,” she said.
“There seems to be a perception that IT is not in demand, that it’s not an occupation that is in demand. It is absolutely not the case.’’
Gillis said the plan is to facilitate professional development training programs locally (as opposed to the expensive option of sending workers off-Island for specialized training) and to create something called a Prosperity Plan, an internship grant that compensates businesses for taking on and giving workers on-the-job experience.
“The key point is that (businesses) are looking for that key three to five years experience right now, so how do you meet that demand?” Gillis asked.
“Well, you either take the people you’ve got that are close to that, give them professional development training and move them up or you repatriate former Islanders to come back and work in those roles or you bring in skilled immigrants to fill that role.
“It’s a complex issue, there’s no doubt about it.’’

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: October 9th, 2008, 9:07 pm 
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I am awaiting a response from the ITSC on this..will post an update when I get one.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: October 9th, 2008, 10:10 pm 
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Location: Fredericton, NB
I was in the same boat. I worked at Resolve back when it was Watts for 2 years. Hated it. I left the IT sector for a while and then went back to school to specialize in GIS. I knew that it wouldn't be a call centre -type job.
A couple of people I know managed to go from a call centre to much better jobs like DVA or provincial government. It's the general vibe that PEI gives off - that we're a cheap place for these US companies to set up shop here and pay their employees barely above minimum wage.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: October 10th, 2008, 6:52 am 
Did anybody truly like working Resolve from what I heard? :wink:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: October 10th, 2008, 8:12 am 
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Almost an Islander

Joined: September 26th, 2008, 11:08 am
Posts: 140
Location: Gatineau, QC
Call centre jobs here in Gatineau / Ottawa only pay between 10 and 12 an hour. No better. Call centre jobs here SUCK. They say they are good because you make "bonus" money..... whatever that is......

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: October 10th, 2008, 8:17 am 
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Joined: December 7th, 2003, 10:36 am
Posts: 2029
Location: P. E. I.
I hear that Businesses look at PEI as being Alabama North when it comes to moving here. Low wages, poor benefits, & Government grants to move here.
I understand call centers have been called the sweat shops of the tech age.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: October 10th, 2008, 8:41 am 
I do have to correct you all;As per his interview on the news yesterday,they are now called "Contact Centers". I mentioned to a person whom was in the industry that they are really Call Centers and he took offense to it. I just laughed.....get a life.
Now we all know;I was told by a board member of Online that they are a bottom feeder for the IT industry on PEI........right........ :lol:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: October 10th, 2008, 8:43 am 
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Joined: February 14th, 2006, 10:33 pm
Posts: 782
Location: Fort McMurray
If When wrote:
Did anybody truly like working Resolve from what I heard? :wink:


I've yet to hear anyone say that they enjoyed it there.... I worked there for a short time a while back - Never. Again.

Did I mention that I'll never do it again? :P

I suppose it's better than licking mud off a floor..... just completely was not the kind of working environment for me....

Did you know that it's apparently possible to sound "too friendly" on the phone? Sorry 'bout that, I'll sart working on the cold and indifferent side of my personality right away. Yeaaah. :?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: October 10th, 2008, 8:52 am 
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Almost an Islander

Joined: August 24th, 2005, 7:25 am
Posts: 299
Perhaps some of you should actually read the study!

http://www.itap.ca/files/ITSCfinalreportOct02_2008.pdf

Quote:
the most sought after skills or positions will be Programmer Analysts, Analysts and Web/Graphic Designers. Sixty-three percent of the positions being filled are at the Intermediate or Senior level. Twenty-seven percent of the positions are at a Junior level and less than 10% are entry level positions. The minimal education requirements that the employers are seeking are a technical certificate or diploma (46%) or an undergraduate degree (25.4%).


The survey showed 69 non-government new jobs anticipated over the next two years. Of course, these jobs will require a certain amount of education and experience, which call centre employees may not meet. Due to impending retirements, the feds and the province will also be hiring on the government side.

My suggestion would be to gain education and experience in the areas outlined in the study, taking courses (especially those with co-op education or on-the-job training), doing contracting, volunteer work, or even personal websites, so that those who are stuck in call centres can qualify for these jobs.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: October 10th, 2008, 8:55 am 
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Joined: September 5th, 2006, 8:12 pm
Posts: 1351
Yep, call centres are the worst. I worked at Resolve for a couple years, even got promoted to a "Team Lead" (Supervisor) which they made a huge deal out of and acted like I had landed a dream career. It was $11/hour, still no benefits.. and waay too much responsibility for the money.

The program I worked in, the PEI office was the head office. There were two other centres that took calls (Ottawa and Toronto), but they had no Team Leads. Anytime they had a question, or a customer who requested to speak to a Supervisor, they had to call us. So, not only were the 5 Team Leads working on the floor with me responsible for handle the 30-40 agents and their issues here, but also the other 100+ that worked out of Toronto and Ottawa. It was non stop, rediculous, and everyone pretty much knew it was because they couldn't get people up there to work in the "Team Lead" role for the low wages they paid.

I remember when I quit, my manager looked at me so seriously and said "You're young and have been given such a great oppourtunity. You're making a very bad career move.

Haha :roll:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: October 10th, 2008, 10:08 am 
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Joined: March 23rd, 2007, 6:35 pm
Posts: 825
Yes, call center work does suck. I have worked in every call center on the Island starting when I was 16 years old. However, what if there were no call center jobs here? Walking into a call center job when you are young, inexperienced, and/or in college and making $10-12 an hour on the Island isn't so bad. Should call center jobs be classified as Tech jobs? I'd say they qualify as an entry level tech job, a foot in the door if you will, but probably should never be referred to as a "career". I was making $11 an hour when I was 16 (10 years ago), you couldn't say the same for too many other jobs on the Island.

The problem with a lot of tech jobs (especially government ones) is that they almost always take certifications/degrees over experience. While I believe education is important in most sectors, IT has always been more experience/drive based in my opinion. People think that because they have a 2 year diploma from Holland College in the IT field qualifies them for these high level IT jobs, but in most cases all they have done is memorized books and did "exam crams". The subjects local schools are teaching are severely outdated, hell the last I checked Holland College was still teaching Novell. How can you teach an industry that changes faster than the curriculum?

Look, you either have the drive or you don't, memorizing a book isn't going to change that. The people who do know what they are doing end up moving away for better opportunities while the inexperienced stay on the Island working low level jobs.

So what is the answer? Better training/selection, and higher paying jobs.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: October 10th, 2008, 10:25 am 
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Almost an Islander
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Joined: July 3rd, 2008, 1:16 am
Posts: 108
Location: Charlottetown, PE, Canada
jfall wrote:
Yes, call center work does suck. I have worked in every call center on the Island starting when I was 16 years old. However, what if there were no call center jobs here? Walking into a call center job when you are young, inexperienced, and/or in college and making $10-12 an hour on the Island isn't so bad. Should call center jobs be classified as Tech jobs? I'd say they qualify as an entry level tech job, a foot in the door if you will, but probably should never be referred to as a "career".

The problem with a lot of tech jobs (especially government ones) is that they always look at certifications/degrees over experience. While I believe education is important in most sectors, IT has always been more experience/drive based in my opinion. People think that because they have a 2 year diploma from Holland College in the IT field qualifies them for these high level IT jobs, but in most cases all they have done is memorized books and did "exam crams". The subjects local schools are teaching are severely outdated, hell the last I checked Holland College was still teaching Novell.

You either have the drive or you don't, memorizing a book isn't going to change that. The people who do know what they are doing end up moving away for better opportunities while the inexperienced stay on the Island working low level jobs.


I completely agree with you on this one jfall. The government is utterly retarded to look at the education over life/job experience.

I will give you an example (not the government, but along the same lines). I went to UPEI for a job interview about 2 months ago, doing their helpdesk support. Currently, I do helpdesk and phone support and have been doing so for 5 years. I have a HUGE knowledgebase of Windows Servers, Linux Servers, MySQL, Perl, PHP, etc. etc. etc. I went in and had prob. the best interview I have ever done. Now, they said that they were going to let me know about the position which is fine, however, I phoned the next day, not realizing that they had gotten my resume off of peijoblink.ca, and it had an outdated phone number for me. So, I called them, and just told them, that the phone number I had on my resume needed to be updated. At that time, they told me that I had "certain skills that they were NOT looking for."....Now, tell me, does that make any sense? I figured that they would want additional skills....but that's just me.

My point though is that I make 12.00/hr, and I have had offers from Halifax to work as a Server Administration for 48,000/yr. (which I would have taken, however, my kids are here.) And it is pretty sad that a 4 hr drive would allow me to make prob. twice if not more, then what I make here doing an "IT" job.

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By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: October 12th, 2008, 11:35 am 
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Almost an Islander
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Joined: February 20th, 2006, 4:45 pm
Posts: 133
Location: Calgary
The problem with the IT market on PEI is the low pay and lack of career growth. PEI just doesn't have the industry to support a good IT market and what little is left has been sabotaged by ITAP and the provincial government.

ITAP and the Provincial Government sell PEI as the India of north america. "Come setup shop in PEI, our IT workers will work for less than anywhere else". Then they have the gall to complain that there are not enough skilled IT professionals on PEI! All the experienced IT people I know have either left PEI for work or are working for remote customers doing consulting making off-island wages. When I lived on the island I always had to consult for companies off-island to make a decent living.

The one thing you always hear from PEI employers as an excuse for their low pay is the low cost of living. Yes, with your low salary you will be able to afford a house. What they don't mention is you won't be able to afford to heat it! Most things are the same cost or cheaper off island.

I would suggest to any IT professional in PEI thinking about leaving to take the leap. You will make 2-3 times as much in salary and have much more career growth opportunity in one of the major centers. If you have an in demand skill you will have your pick of good jobs.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: October 12th, 2008, 2:27 pm 
This is just my opinion .. I'm a girl and allowed to change it.

Does anyone who works in a call centre like Resolve, Advantage and Online truly believe they work in an IT industry? We are faceless Customer Service representatives. Most have no more experience in the tech field then what steps they are taught to read off the troubleshooting pages we are coached on.

When I moved to Charlottetown, I came to manage a box store ... I ended up in a call centre because they paid more, better benefits and less stress. In the manager position I would have had to meet bonus marks to increase my wages, something highly unlikely in Charlottetown when those bonuses are based on National levels. I had medical and dental benefits in 3 months at the call centre, where the box store would have been 6 months and a year for full benefits. If you compared both and broke it down to a basic wage and time invested, the call centre paid more.

I have received an increase in pay higher then I would have in a retail industry. My raise is based on my job performance. I have almost always been treated fairly when it has come to my wages and performance. I can fully agree there is not enough appreciation of employees in a call centre environment, but you would get that almost anywhere else. I have worked for worse employers.

In my training class I was one of 8 ... the oldest and apparently the least experience with computers (little did they know). There were three in the class who had just completed Holland College computer classes and the remainder were coming from other call centres. After three years I am still there, the others are long gone .... the ones I keep in touch with are working seasonally or below what they were making at the call centre.

Call centre work (like I am doing) is not for everyone, it is easy and anyone who can read and write english can be taught how to do it. It is monotonous and repetitive work and only the callers make the difference in the calls you are taking. I agree anyone can do it, but not everyone can do it well. I disagree that you cannot make a career out of working in the call centre. You most certainly can if you are willing to work and you are willing to take any and all training that comes available. As call centres demands change, so do the type of clients, then the training is needed. More training means more wages as you have to learn a new queue. You have to like your job, work hard and be willing to take on new tasks to make your employment with a call centre a career.

I could make more money working somewhere else, but then I would be looking into the added stress, less benefits, distance to travel, seasonal employment and a whole bunch of other factors. I had all that when I was self employed, working for other employers who were just plain mean .... I could do worse then the call centre I am working at. I do make enough to live on, I certainly don't make enough to say I have disposable income ... but I am doing alright.

I think more employees need to recognize their worth. Ironically though ... the ones that think they are worth so much, tend to be worthless to the employer. I have seen lots of employees come into the call centre convinced because they have a certificate that says they know something about computers expect to get paid top dollar. Most call centres that fall under IT Development are the lower end of the IT Development chain ... but are still necessary and needed. We are customer service related, not information technology at its best.

You want higher wages in the IT field, then specialize, know where you want to get a job and do well when you get it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: October 12th, 2008, 6:01 pm 
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Almost an Islander
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Joined: February 20th, 2006, 4:45 pm
Posts: 133
Location: Calgary
I would not define call center work as IT work either, it's a customer service job for sure. When I refer to the term 'IT professional' I'm referring to a person with 3-5 years of relevant IT (not call center) work experience, like a software developer, systems administrator etc.

I have been working in IT for 10 years. I started out as a computer technician at a small computer company making an average salary. In 2000, having used Linux/Unix personally for 5 years, I was offered a job as the Unix systems administrator for a small .com company in Montreal, I was employee number 8. That company grew to be one of the top online retail websites in Canada, when I left in 2006 they had 150+ employees.

Since there were no IT jobs to speak of in PEI and my wife was from Calgary we sold our house and moved to Calgary. I signed on with another startup and was on a small team of 6 guys that designed and deployed a national VOIP telephone network capable of hosting a million business subscribers. After that I signed on with the worlds largest seismic company as a Unix Systems Administrator. I build and maintain their several Linux supercomputer clusters as well as support their large Unix server infrastructure. The company has excellent benefits and great pay.

I would love to work and live in PEI again, unfortunately there are very few real IT jobs and even fewer that pay even close to what I can make anywhere else in the country. With the way ITAP and the government market PEI I don't see that changing any time soon.


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