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Canada is home to some of North America’s fastest-growing tech talent markets.
There’s Toronto, which earned the No.4 spot in CBRE’s just-released Scoring Tech Talent report, having added 66,900 tech jobs over the past five years. Then there’s Vancouver (which held on to the No.12 spot), Ottawa (which rose an impressive four spots to No.14) and Montreal (which dropped to No. 16). And new this year we have Calgary, which made its first-ever appearance in the North American Tech Talent ranking, debuting at No. 34.
But there’s more to Canada’s tech industry than just these major players. At a time when companies are considering a less centralized office model, it’s worth watching out for smaller markets that have the potential to become thriving tech talent centres in the coming years.
From Waterloo Region, with its world-class universities and Toronto-adjacent location, to Quebec City, an affordable city that’s seen significant tech job growth, Canada boasts plenty of smaller tech markets that will be worth keeping an eye on. Let’s take a closer look.
The Top Up-and-Coming Market
There’s a reason you’ve heard so much about the Toronto-Waterloo tech corridor. Waterloo Region had a pool of 22,400 tech workers in 2019, the product of an astonishing 51.0% growth in tech talent from 2014 to 2019. That was good enough to put in the top spot on the “Next 25” list of up and coming tech talent markets in the new CBRE report.
With an average tech worker salary of $87,485, Waterloo Region is an affordable market for tech companies looking to recruit graduates from the area’s leading post-secondary institutions. Tech degree completions in the Region totaled 2,707 in 2018.
“Waterloo Region has a reputation as one of Canada’s hottest tech hubs and it’s great to see us ready to take on the big cities in North America with our No. 1 up-and-coming ranking,” said Ted Overbaugh, CBRE’s Managing Director for Southwestern Ontario. “It is great to get that global recognition after our market re-tooled several years ago. We’ve long known Waterloo Region’s ability to attract tech workers from around the world and produce a steady stream of homegrown talent.”
Cities to Watch
Waterloo Region isn’t the only smaller tech centre to watch.
Quebec City was ranked No. 6 on the list of up and coming tech talent markets. The provincial capital has seen a substantial 27.0% growth in tech jobs between 2014 and 2019, for a total pool of 35,800 jobs as of 2019.
Meanwhile, Edmonton, which was No. 9 on the Next 25 list, saw its tech talent labour force grow by an impressive 17.0% over the past five years, for a total tech labour pool of 25,200 workers — that’s bigger than the tech labour pools of Waterloo Region, Las Vegas, NV, and Louisville, KY. And with an average salary of $88,885 (up 6.0% since 2014), Edmonton is an affordable option for companies searching for top talent with low price tags.
Halifax made its first ever appearance in the Tech Talent report, coming No. 12 in the ‘Next 25’ list. The Atlantic Canada centre saw its tech talent labour force grow by 11.0% over the past five years, for a total tech labour pool of 13,200 — more than Tulsa, OK and Boise, ID.
Winnipeg rounds out the list of Canadian cities in the Next 25 list, at No. 22, boasting a total tech labour pool of 15,400 workers and having produced 378 tech graduates in 2018.
Canada’s Tech Landscape
The Scoring Tech Talent report paints a promising picture of Canada’s robust and rapidly growing tech sector. With five markets in the Top 50 and five more on the list of Next 25 markets to watch, there can be no doubt about the vital role this tech talent will play in shaping our country’s economic future.
While many industries are struggling to adjust to COVID-19, Canada’s tech talent is well positioned to weather the pandemic and ensuing recession because, more than ever, companies across all industries need the technical skills that this talent base offers. From streaming to remote communications, tech services are in demand to support remote work and social distancing.
“We expect that most tech-talent markets and professions will thrive after the pandemic subsides, and many that facilitate remote work, e-commerce, social media and streaming services amy have even greater growth opportunities accelerated by the COVID-19 disruption,” said Colin Yasukochi, Executive Director of CBRE’s Tech Insights Center. “Markets that have strong innovation infrastructure - leading universities and higher concentrations of tech jobs - will lead the next growth cycle.”