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While 2020 has brought plenty of changes, Toronto’s global tech status isn’t one of them.
Toronto is the No. 4 city in North America for tech talent, according to CBRE’s new Scoring Tech Talent report. It joins a host of other Canadian cities, from Vancouver (No. 12) to Ottawa (No. 14), Montreal (No. 12) and Calgary, which makes its first-ever appearance in the Top 50 ranking, debuting at No. 34.
Toronto was a North American leader in tech employment growth leading up to the COVID-19 outbreak. And, while it’s too soon to know exactly how the pandemic will affect the city’s momentum as a tech talent centre, there is reason for optimism.
“Online demand and the tech sector in general have gone into overdrive since the emergence of COVID-19,” says CBRE Canada Vice Chairman Paul Morassutti. “This report points to the cities likely to benefit most from this activity, and Toronto continues to be near the front of a very competitive pack.”
As Canada continues to make headway in its effort to contain COVID-19, and the U.S. pushes forward with visa changes that could hurt its prospects for attracting tech talent, there is reason to believe in the sustainability of these trends in Canadian markets. Let’s take a closer look.
Toronto added a whopping 66,900 tech jobs over the past five years, the second-most of any North American city.
CBRE defines tech talent as 20 tech-focused occupations found in all industry sectors, including software developers, programmers and computer and information system managers. It ranks the top 50 markets by assessing 13 metrics on a weighted basis, including tech-talent supply, concentration, and real estate costs.
Between 2014 and 2019, Toronto saw a 36.5% growth in tech jobs. And while the average tech worker salary rose by 11.2%, at $84,986 it still makes Toronto a much more affordable market for tech talent than the infamously expensive San Francisco Bay Area.
Tech and the Office
COVID-19 may have contributed to a slight increase in the vacancy rate of the Toronto office market, but it remains one of the tightest markets in North America.
Though a few tech companies have signaled plans for more employees working remotely, many companies are considering increased flexibility, including office strategies that combine remote work with the cultural hub of the office.
In CBRE’s recent 2020 Global Occupier Services Strategy survey, 41.0% of respondents said the importance of the physical office will decrease only slightly after COVID-19, while 38.0% said it will remain as important, if not more.
That same survey found that over 60.0% of respondents were pursuing lease renewals, while more than 85.0% are optimizing their portfolios.
Tech’s Role in COVID-19
While many industries scramble to rethink their business plans during COVID-19, tech companies have found their services more in demand than ever before.
“Tech-talent workers are the ones that have made it possible for us to remain productive during our crash course this year in remote working,” said Lexi Russell, CBRE Director of Research & Analysis and co-author of the Scoring Tech Talent report.
“We expect that most tech-talent hubs and professions will thrive after the pandemic subsides, and many that facilitate remote work, ecommerce, social media and streaming services may have even greater growth opportunities accelerate by the COVID-19 disruption,” said Colin Yasukochi, Executive Director of CBRE’s Tech Insights Centre.