Today’s businesses continue embracing digital transformation through automation, cloud systems, and remote work arrangements into 2023.
Still, skill shortages and employee attrition plague the Canadian workforce. One constant that remains is the demand for highly skilled IT and tech professionals — which just increased by 25% in 2022.
Recruitment company Randstad recently released roundups of Canada’s most in-demand tech skills and IT and tech jobs for 2023. The good news is prospective workers have ample fields, industries, and salary ranges to consider as they peruse the job market.
And we’re not just talking about the IT industry. Randstad reminds us that tech professionals are sought after in pretty much every industry, especially banking, administration consulting, employment agencies, and software publishers.
Randstad cites data, security, business system, and quality assurance analysts in their list. These roles require not only technical skills like Microsoft Azure and experience with cloud technology, but also project management skills earned through previous tenures or certifications like the project management professional (PMP) or certified scrummaster (CSM).
Other in-demand jobs listed include cloud architect and network engineer, positions calling for significant expertise in Java, Python, and cloud technology, on top of other technical and soft skills.
We also see an increase in average salaries for 2023, jumping from $51,900 to $154,300 in 2022 to $74,000 to $130,600 in 2023. But tech professionals seeking the highest salaries should gravitate toward developer/programmer roles, a position that also made Randstad’s more general best jobs in 2023 list. Notably, the full-stack developer role topped Randstad’s highest-paid jobs list, fetching as high as $130,000.
Randstad also shares a long list of highly sought-after technical skills, from C# and Java to Linux and API.
While years of professional experience would certainly help today’s prospective candidate, it’s not always a deal breaker. McKinsey reminds us of a curious phenomenon in the tech industry — 44% of tech professionals transitioned from a non-IT role. That’s because companies indeed want qualified candidates with skills, but also seek enthusiastic, hardworking professionals interested in learning and growing with the field’s constant innovations.
Another notable finding was Ranstad’s certification recommendations. These aren’t suitable for beginner tech professionals; rather, they’re a way for an entry-level, associate, or executive professional to easily highlight their prowess on their resumes, like the certified information security manager (CISM) certification.
Peter Bendor-Samuel, CEO of research firm Everest Group, described the tech demand to Forbes as a result of consistent investment in software-driven operating platforms despite reduced discretionary spending.
Companies are cutting out the fluff — but people who can create and improve technology, security, and cloud computing solutions and systems are certainly not fluff.
DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.
These 5 charts show the ups and downs of the US stock market over 10 years
The U.S. stock market is a complicated beast, and with recent events like the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen some volatility in the last few years. Stocks dipped quite a bit during the pandemic but have recovered since.
To get an idea of how the stock market has fared in the last 10 years, watch trends of major market indices—or certain groups of companies’ stocks that give a sample of how the entire market is performing. Perhaps the most well-known market index is the S&P 500, a group of the 500 largest companies on the U.S. stock market.
While the S&P 500 is widely regarded as the best indicator of how the stock market is faring, other market indices can give you a different view based on the type of companies they track. Dow Jones, for instance, follows 30 of the largest companies in the country from various industries. The NASDAQ includes all stocks on the NASDAQ market, largely comprised of tech companies.
By watching the performance of these and other market indices, investors can get a good idea of how the U.S. stock market as a whole has performed over time. Olive Invest examined historical equities data from S&P Dow Jones, NASDAQ, and other data sources to see how the stock market has fared over the last decade.
How stocks have performed over the last decade
This chart shows a significant increase in stock index values from the last decade, despite a brief drop in 2020 during the pandemic. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a steep drop-off in index values. However, they bounced back by the end of 2020 into 2021.
Index values have held relatively steady growth across the last 10 years. The NASDAQ, S&P 500, and Dow Jones Industrial Average have all doubled in value since 2012.
This chart measures the Chicago Board Options Exchange volatility index (VIX index), designed to show how current events and uncertainty affect stock prices. Essentially, the more fluctuation you see here, the more uncertainty investors and the public have about the future, which can significantly impact the market and even help project market crises.
Unsurprisingly, the most significant spike in volatility from the last decade was in March 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The last two years have shown a reduction in volatility since this spike, but in general, there is more uncertainty than 10 years prior.
Rates of return since 2000
The S&P 500’s annual return on investment is a critical indicator of the stock market’s performance. The average return since the S&P 500’s establishment is 11%.
There are a few notable data points here—perhaps the most prominent of which is the Great Recession in 2008. That financial crisis resulted in the most significant drop in the S&P 500 return of the last 20 years. Since the recession, however, the rate of return has been above average almost every year.
S&P stocks by sector
The S&P 500 tracks the top 500 U.S. companies on the stock market. Knowing what types of businesses make up the majority of the index is essential to understanding which sectors have the most success.
In 2022, Information Technology made up 26.4% of the S&P 500—an industry high in the last 20 years. Similarly, health care is gaining ground in the previous few years, though it is still short of its historical high.
The financial sector has seen a downturn in the last decade—though this may change with the reclassification of major shares next year.
Number of publicly traded companies declines
In the last 20 years, there has been a significant drop in how many publicly traded domestic companies are on the U.S. stock market as more companies exit the market and there are fewer IPOs.
The last decade, however, has been far more stable. Experts suggest the change is connected to natural fluctuations and changing dynamics in the market’s major industries. McKinsey attributes a significant portion of the drop-off to acquisitions.
Still, there have been fewer IPOs in the last several years, which can be a disappointment for new investors trying to get in on the ground floor.
This story originally appeared on Olive Invest and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.
Americans spend $179 on fuel each month—here’s how to spend less
Owning a vehicle comes with a whole host of costs—from insurance and maintenance to parking and tolls. And if the past year has proven anything, it’s that another cost associated with vehicle use—namely fuel—can fluctuate wildly, putting further strain on your bank account for an already costly necessity.
CoPilot looked into the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Surveys to see how much Americans spend on fuel for their vehicles and used sources from insurance companies, transportation fleet managers, and government agencies to determine some ways to lower that expenditure.
On average, Americans spent $179 per month (or $2,148 annually) on gasoline, other fuels, and motor oils in 2021, accounting for around 3% of overall annual expenses. In terms of finding decisive ways to cut that cost, one front-of-mind idea might be to consider an electric vehicle. EVs are gaining in popularity, the major automakers are investing heavily in an electric future, and the government incentivizes most EV buyers.
While switching to a car with better fuel economy, such as a hybrid or fully electric vehicle, can lead to big reductions in monthly fuel expenses, hybrids and EVs often cost more than their gasoline-only counterparts, and the fuel savings may not offset that difference for a number of years. What’s more, the infrastructure EVs depend on for charging remains in something of a developmental stage, making them a limited alternative to gas-powered vehicles—at least for now.
There are approximately 250 million cars and trucks on U.S. roadways; less than 1% are electric. So for those either not in the market for a new vehicle or simply content to stick with the reliability of gasoline-powered travel, the following list offers a wide range of suggestions, best practices, and easy lifestyle adjustments that can reduce the monthly costs associated with fueling a personal vehicle.
Wealthy households spend more than twice as much on gasoline
Even as gas prices were at their highest since 2014 (adjusted for inflation), spending on fuel in 2021 increased from 2019 levels by only $54 per year on average. And while the drastic reduction in driving brought on during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 had a great impact on fuel spending that year, it does not seem to have extended to significantly changed habits in the following year—driving in 2021 dropped by only 1% when compared with 2019 levels.
Though average spending on fuel in 2021 was high, the lack of an even more dramatic increase due to high gas prices can be attributed mainly to the steady rise in the fuel efficiency of vehicles over the past decade.
Another important consideration raised by this is whether or not the burden of those fuel expenses is felt equally across income levels. Bureau of Labor Statistics data suggests it does not. For those in the lowest income quintile, spending on fuel represented 3.6% of total expenses. The burden decreased for each subsequent income bracket; in the highest quintile, it represented just 2.4% of total costs.
While this disparity might seem minimal when considering the upper limit of the lower quintile’s household earnings is just over $27,000, and the lower limit (or floor) of the highest quintile is $141,000, that 1.2% difference comes starkly into focus.
So while the increase in the fuel economy of newer cars seems to have a relative equalizing force on fuel expenses when taken on average, income disparity implies that those in lower income quintiles do not reap the benefits of those improvements in automotive engineering.
Consider alternative forms of transportation
From their walkability to the accessibility and affordability of public transit, urban areas such as cities offer residents, especially those living in city centers, alternatives to using personal vehicles to get around. This isn’t just beneficial to their health and that of the environment; it also helps people reduce fuel costs.
Overall, those who live in urban areas spent $3,303 less on transportation than those in rural areas in 2021. Fuel expenses accounted for roughly 13% of transportation costs, meaning even those who owned cars in urban areas spent on average $39 less per month on fuel than those in rural settings.
This is not to say, however, that rural or micropolitan areas cannot take advantage of alternative forms of transportation. Small towns across the U.S. have begun to see the value in investing in bike-share programs, using its infrastructure funding to add bike-protected lanes on their streets. This is especially true in smaller college towns, where foot and bike traffic tends to be high.
So whether it’s via bike, scooter, or sneakers, tackling short-distance trips by means other than your vehicle can translate to more cash in your pocket.
Keep a close eye on how you’re using your vehicle’s features
The data is clear: Sensible driving makes a meaningful impact on the efficiency of your car.
Frequent braking and acceleration, fast driving, and A/C overuse are a few habits that can increase the overall cost of travel in your vehicle. Using A/C during hot weather can reduce fuel economy by more than 25%, according to the Department of Energy. Parking your car in shade, rolling down your windows at low speeds, and preemptively letting hot air out of the cabin as you begin your journey are a few ways to decrease the impact of heat and make your car more comfortable A/C-free.
The power of a car’s acceleration is something many, if not most, drivers love, and many car buyers put a particular value on speed capability when making their decision. For most vehicles, however, speeding also comes at a cost. For every 5 mph above 50, the cost per gallon of gas increases, depending on your vehicle’s make, model, and year.
Suppose you are driving a 2020 Ford F-150 4WD (incidentally, the bestselling truck in the U.S. since the late 1970s); the difference between going 65 mph and 80 mph is approximately $1 per gallon of gas—meaning what it costs you per 100 miles to hit the highway at 80 is equivalent to the price of an additional gallon of gas or more. Considering the average person drives 13,476 miles per year, keeping to the lower speed (on average) translates into more than $440 in fuel savings.
Coupled with the 15%-30% decrease in fuel economy brought on by frequent braking and acceleration, maintaining steady speeds, accelerating and braking gently, using cruise control, and leaving ample space between your car and the one in front of you can cut your fuel costs while also keeping you safer on the road.
Properly maintain your vehicle
In addition to benefiting its life span, properly maintaining and organizing your vehicle can lead to a small but mighty decrease in monthly fuel expenses.
Keeping your tires inflated to recommended levels, reducing excess weight, and using the recommended grade of motor oil all benefit fuel economy, according to the DOE.
Moreover, and as per basic physics, your car’s fuel use is greatly impacted by aerodynamics; so, while it might seem handy to keep that cargo pod on your roof, or that bicycle rack on your bumper, it can decrease your car’s efficiency by as much as 8% when you’re just tooling around town and as much as 25% on the interstate.
T. Schneider // Shutterstock
Purchase fuel with purpose
An ongoing myth is that premium fuels will make your car more efficient. While they won’t hurt your vehicle’s performance, premium fuel makes no difference for most cars.
There are ways to get more out of your gas purchases through grocery store, gas station, and credit card reward and money-back programs. If you know your habits well enough, you’ll be able to make such programs worthwhile. As per capita gas consumption has hovered in the 350-450 gallon range over the past 20 years, using such programs can translate to big savings.
One of the more effective ways to minimize the price of gas is by using apps and services that, when combined with a little forward planning, allow you to chart out your gas refuels at stations you know will have favorable prices.
Gas prices can fluctuate wildly within a relatively small area. Apps like GasBuddy are built specifically to help you plan around gas price variance and minimize its impact on long trips or high monthly usage. Most navigation tools like Waze or Google Maps also come with built-in gas price features as well.
Avoid driving altogether
This might seem a rather extreme recommendation, but even if you don’t live near public transit, there are still ways you can reduce the time you spend driving and, therefore, the amount you spend on driving.
Carpooling even a few times a week can lead to many positives, including a decreased carbon footprint and lower fuel expenses. Moreover, carpooling is often supported by corporate incentive programs, so it’s worth looking into at your place of work.
Other options to reduce your reliance on a personal vehicle include riding a bike or e-bike, walking when possible, reducing the number of cars in your household, and coordinating your errands to minimize individual car usage. These alternatives can make a substantive difference not only for your budget but for your health and well-being as well.
Finally, the easiest way to lower your spending on fuel is to spend no money on fuel whatsoever. If you’re able to consider ditching your car entirely, the widespread availability of ride-share and taxi services and car rental agencies can help fill your personal transportation needs when and if they arise.
This story originally appeared on CoPilot and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.
Contests, crowdfunding, and other ways to finance a small business without a bank loan
Roughly 1 in 3 small businesses in the U.S. sought a loan in 2021. The top reason for a loan was to meet operating expenses, followed by funding a business expansion and refinancing debt.
That’s according to the latest Small Business Credit Survey from the Federal Reserve, which found that about 75% of those loan applicants applied for credit from banks.
A bank loan could propel your business to new heights if tapped for the right reasons and under the right conditions. But not every small business wants to borrow from a bank, nor can every small business get approved by a bank. In general, the larger a company’s revenue, the more likely it is to seek a bank loan, as opposed to financing from a nonbank online-only lender, according to the Fed. Online lenders, also sometimes called fintech lenders, offer a range of credit options for capital, including loans, lines of credit, and cash advances using different financing models.
When it comes to getting off the ground, only about 1 in 5 small businesses use a bank loan to get started. The rest rely on personal savings and less conventional sources. The younger a firm is, the more likely it is to seek alternative financing, the Fed survey found. Young and startup enterprises may have increased difficulty accessing a traditional bank loan because they have less data on operations, fewer years in business, and may even need more proof of their business concept. Banks look at these factors to varying degrees when assessing whether a company or person is trustworthy enough to lend money.
Growthink compiled 10 alternatives to bank loans for small business funding, using information from the Small Business Administration, news coverage, and other sources. The good news is that many other funding sources are available to business owners if bootstrapping it alone seems daunting, has become onerous, or just feels downright impossible.
Do you have a fully-fleshed idea for a product and are looking for capital to create it? Consider crowdfunding it. People often solicit funding on social networks or in public to crowdfund charities or other worthy causes. But increasingly, crowdfunding is being used to pay for developing innovative new products.
Sites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter offer creators a way to connect with crowdfunded capital—and for many potential investors, opportunities to contribute small amounts of money that can add up to enough for a company to get moving. New platforms are emerging today as well, like StartEngine and SeedInvest.
Home equity loans are one nontraditional place a small business owner might consider when needing capital. This loan, of course, requires the business owner to be a homeowner and to have paid off a significant portion of their mortgage: Most lenders will want to see you’re able to pay a mortgage before issuing a new one. A home equity line of credit, or HELOC for short, allows the homeowner to take out a loan against the value of the real estate.
One thing to consider when considering a HELOC is that the home becomes collateral and could face foreclosure should the business fail to repay.
Credit cards are one of the most popular forms of lending for consumers, but they’re also an option for businesses needing a smaller amount of cash soon. This route for alternative funding comes with added perks depending on the card, like airline miles, TSA PreCheck access, and cash back at certain places.
Another benefit is that, unlike commercial credit cards, there are business cards with no spending limits. This near-term financing comes with its risks, however. If the business owner carries a balance, they accrue additional debt. Interest rates can vary from 15% to 30% on cards offered by major institutions like American Express.
Grants for small businesses are everywhere—if you’re looking in the right places. Grants tend to be no-strings-attached forms of funding, so they come in smaller amounts than other forms of financing, like loans.
The Small Business Administration finances loans under the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. The programs aim to help entrepreneurs undertake significant research and development efforts. The SBA also runs a grant program to help small businesses expand internationally.
There is almost always an institution offering a cash award in a contest for small businesses somewhere in the U.S.
FedEx makes $30,000 grants available to business owners through a yearly contest. Shopify offers a similar program. The Chamber of Commerce regularly holds cash award contests. Goldman Sachs has run its 10,000 Small Businesses accelerator program for more than a decade, which helps provide access to loans that average $52,000 per borrower.
The Small Business Administration offers loans of up to $50,000 to small business owners called “microloans.” These loans can be used for nearly any business expense except for real estate purchases and payments on existing debt.
The SBA approves several community-level financial institutions to distribute these loans, which the agency lists on its website. One of those institutions is California FarmLink, connecting California farmers with the capital they need to upgrade equipment and run their agricultural operations.
Community development finance institutions
The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund is a pool of money overseen by the U.S. Treasury and doled out to financial institutions that lend to and support low- and moderate-income or underserved communities. It was created in 1994 by a bipartisan coalition in Congress under then-President Bill Clinton.
The fund intends to use federal funding to stimulate economic growth in these communities. The CDFI Coalition maintains a state-level database of organizations that have received funds from the Treasury. It shows, for example, that in 2021, lenders in Mississippi received more than $200 million in funding from the CDFI.
Almost half of the CDFI-certified institutions are those considered “mission-driven”—focused on a social purpose rather than, or in addition to, profits.
Financial technology firms, sometimes called fintech or online lenders, have emerged in the last decade to fill lending gaps where traditional banks have fallen short.
Founded in 2008, Kabbage was so successful at connecting small businesses and entrepreneurs with microloans that American Express ultimately acquired it in 2020.
Another mechanism for funding that financial technology firms have brought to more businesses over the past decade is called “invoice factoring,” in which a company like Pipe buys a firm’s invoices at a discount and then collects the payments when they are due. It’s effectively a loan based on expected revenue, with cash upfront in exchange for payment down the road—and a fee, of course.
While online lenders have expanded access to credit and capital, the sector is also showing signs of becoming increasingly selective. In 2021, small business approval rates at online lenders declined as compared with 2020, according to the Fed. Small businesses also reported challenges with high interest rates and difficult repayment terms for loans obtained through online lenders in 2021.
Depending on where your small business journey is—in development, starting up, early-stage, or growth—investors are looking to make a return on their fortunes and may want to lend to you.
Angel Investors are typically wealthy individuals seeking early-stage companies to invest in, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.
Since it’s riskier to invest in a company without much proof of concept, these investors may have higher expectations than others for how much return the business will generate for them and how quickly. These investors may also seek a company board seat or equity in the firm to exert some control over its trajectory.
If you’re seeking funding at a later stage, there are hordes of venture capital firms looking for businesses that can grow their money.
In 2022, venture capitalists have invested some $300 billion in businesses around the world, according to the latest quarterly data from CB Insights. Like angel investors, a VC or VC firm may require equity in your business in exchange for cash. As partial owners, they contribute consultation and help make connections with other players in your industry.
VCs tend to invest millions of dollars depending on the company and its trajectory.
This story originally appeared on Growthink and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.
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