Smaller Cities Make Big Strides in CBRE’s Canadian Tech Talent Ranking

26 Nov 2019

While Toronto remains Canada’s top market for tech employment, Victoria, Oshawa, Hamilton and Guelph gather major momentum


Toronto is tops for Canadian tech talent, having added an extraordinary 80,100 tech jobs between 2013 and 2018 (54% growth), far outpacing the nation’s other leading tech centres. Ottawa, Vancouver, Waterloo Region and Montreal round out the Top 5 in CBRE’s Scoring Canadian Tech Talent Report. But while larger tech talent markets continue to dominate, Canada’s smaller markets have been making big strides.

Victoria (No. 7) climbed three spots and Oshawa (No. 12) rose by two, the largest year-over-year improvements in the 2019 rankings. Hamilton (No. 9) and Guelph (No. 13) recorded the fastest tech job growth among mid-sized and small tech talent markets. And Edmonton moved into the Top 10 as a result of 26% increase in tech jobs in the past five years.

“Although Canada’s major markets have deep pools of tech talent and are globally competitive, the competition for office space is fierce and tech tenants are having to be decisive and creative when it comes to their real estate. Mid- and small-sized markets are gathering major momentum, because they offer tech firms greater availability of office space, operational cost savings, and untapped talent pools,” said CBRE Canada Vice Chairman Paul Morassutti. “It says something that the two largest ranking improvements were in Victoria and Oshawa, and the largest venture capital deal was in St. John’s.”

CBRE Research has analyzed 20 Canadian cities to create a scorecard that ranks their tech talent offerings. The scorecard uses 13 metrics to measure each market’s depth, vitality and attractiveness to tech employers and potential employees, including availability of talent, quality of labour and gross operating costs. To generate an overall score, each metric has been weighted by relative importance to companies seeking tech talent.

Here’s a look at how Canadian tech centres fared based on several of these key metrics:

  • Tech labour concentration: Tech labour concentration is an influential factor in ranking how “tech” a market is and what its growth potential might be. Ottawa has a 9.9% concentration of tech workers, nearly double the Canadian average of 5.3% and only slightly behind San Francisco’s North America-leading 10.0%. Also of note, Waterloo Region and Quebec City, which represent a combined 5.8% of the Canadian tech landscape, are punching above their weight with tech concentrations that are comparable to those of Toronto and Montreal.
  • Quality of labour: Labour is by far the largest expense for most firms, particularly those seeking tech talent, therefore the quality of that talent is crucial. The top five Canadian tech talent cities are also those that produce the highest number of tech graduates. Montreal has three of the top 10 university computer science programs and produces the highest volume of tech graduates, followed by Toronto, Vancouver, Waterloo Region and Ottawa. Halifax (No. 11 in the overall Tech Talent ranking) and Edmonton each produce over 1,000 tech degrees annually.
  • Cost to operate: Combining wage and real estate costs offers insight into what a tech firm might pay to operate in a city. Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa have the highest combined rent and wage costs, at more than $40 million per year. Most affordable of all are Moncton (No. 20 in the overall Tech Talent ranking), Quebec City (No. 8) and London (No. 14). Montreal is the most cost-competitive of Canada’s large tech centres.

View the Full Report Here

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