Are all hardcore developers in Canada disappeared?

A couple of days ago I was talking with my boss, who is the VP of development at my day job (which I will not disclose, while my night job is thinkcode.tv).
We were talking about accents. I’m the first non-native English speaker of the company and despite being fluent in English, of course my accent can still be recognized (even though people typically don’t think I’m Italian, which is kind of funny).

Anyway, he told me that none of the persons replying to the job post in Spring 2008 that brought to my employment was actually a native English speaker. I was in shock. The posting was kind of hardcore and a bit silly at the same time, so I understand that not everybody could have been attracted by it, especially if you want to work in a typical big enterprise setup. But the idea that there were no Canadian-born technologists in Toronto willing to even reply to it and being able to survive a simple resume screening is kind of disarming.

Where have all the technologists in the GTA gone? Where are the hardcore developers? Have they maybe transitioned to a managerial path and they have totally lost the technical side of the job? Natively English-speaking software architects, development managers, XP coaches… where are you? Are you all doing consulting?

Hard to say. Certainly one of the things which motivated my decision to leave Italy was the increasing difficulty to find interesting technical jobs that could afford to pay my admittedly good salary (for Italian standard). But here the situation is different: there are still a lot of attractive jobs from a technical perspective, paying good money and yet, no old Canadians interested in doing them?!?

I find it fascinating. Good for immigrants and new Canadians I suppose, but nevertheless wrong. And this happens despite the presence of great Engineering faculties like Waterloo and UofT, just to name the first two that I can think about.

So, once again, where are you?

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5 Responses to “Are all hardcore developers in Canada disappeared?”

  1. Russell Says:

    I’m not Canadian, but I’ve quite liked the place when I’ve visited. If your company is hiring, I’d be happy to apply. I’m a native English speaker, and I like to think a pretty good software developer. I currently work for a research group, writing code for a wide variety of purposes in Python, Java, and lately C++. We use an agile process, and I’ve been responsible for a good bit of the architecture for our open source analysis software.

  2. thinkingbox Says:

    @Russell, I’m sorry but we’re not hiring right now.

  3. Darrell Says:

    My mother has 12 sisters and 2 brothers. Each of them got married and had at least 5 kids. I believe I have 100 immediate cousins on my mother’s side alone. I have no children. My sisters have around 2 each. Bottom line, there are a LOT of baby boomers and not as many people from my generation.

    The Canadian government is relying on immigrants to fill in the gap. There are still a fair number of hardcore technologists in Canada. Many are in a good stable job. Unless my employer does something to make me want to quit I’ll usually just stick with my job. I’m not even looking.

    Talking to a professional recruiter (this guy finds and tracks some amazing talent) he confessed that most the people who seek him out are unemployed and for a good reason. They aren’t bad but they are not star performers. If a company is laying off employees they keep the star performers. This is why good recruiters steal employees from companies rather than look for unemployed individuals.

    I do have to say though, as someone born in Canada, I usually find myself a minority. Usually 10% to 15% of the staff are born in Canada at the places I’ve worked.

  4. Andy Glew Says:

    I’m Canadian. I’m reasonably hard core (e.g. with high probability you are using something I designed at the time you are reading this). Montreal, not Toronto; but I’ve been in the US for 24 years. This is the year that I will have spent more of my life in the US than in Canada. Still a Canadian citizen, and I’d like to return to Canada.

    But… I would have been unlikely to pass your resume screen. Reason: it is unlikely that I would have exactly the check off items your HR department was looking for. Undoubtedly could pick them up quickly, but.

    It is easier for a company to hire an immigrant who looks like he has exactly the check off items needed, than to figure out how likely a native is to be able to pick it up.

    • thinkingbox Says:

      @Andy, I hear you and I don’t disagree in principle: my experience is that in general HR departments don’t trust anybody’s ability to pick up things, regardless whether they are native or not. The immigrants pool may be bigger, hence they may pick people from that pool more easily, but I don’t think that there is a discrimination against Canadians.
      But the case of my post was different: here Canadians didn’t apply at all! So, is it that HR departments in general are so discouraging that Canadians have given up?

      Note: my experience with HR departments here is pretty good though.

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