Canada’s Smaller Cities Lure Tech Talent from Major Markets – Here’s Why

November 26, 2020 3 Minute Read

Canada’s Smaller Cities Lure Tech Talent from Major Cities – Here’s Why

In Canada, almost 900,000 people are employed in the tech industry. While the majority of these workers are located in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, don’t be too quick to discount the smaller markets. Our 2020 Scoring Canadian Tech Talent report shows that tech talent growth in some of these markets is outpacing the big cities.

Small and mid-sized markets possess qualities such as lower operating costs, less competition and a higher quality of life that make them attractive alternatives to setting up shop in big city centres. Here’s a look at some of them:

Oshawa, #14 in the Tech Talent ranking, and Hamilton (#10), are two smaller cities that benefit from their proximity to the Toronto-Waterloo Innovation Corridor. In the last five years, the tech talent pool in these markets has grown by 36.6% and 35.7%, respectively. To put that into perspective, Toronto’s Tech Talent pool grew by 36.5% and Canada’s biggest city is ranked No. 5 in this category.

Oshawa and Hamilton, which essentially bookend the Greater Toronto Area, are doing exceptionally well at attracting millennials looking for homes in a less debilitating price range. Homes in these areas are $200,000 to $300,000 cheaper than in Toronto, a huge draw for this demographic as they start families.

Quebec City, #9 in the Tech Talent ranking, added 7,700 tech jobs in the last five years. The provincial capital has the third-highest tech labour concentration in the country; of all those employed in the city, 8.7% work in the tech industry.

Operating costs in Quebec City are among the lowest of all the Canadian markets, which is attracting tech companies from around the world. And a UNESCO World Heritage Site, mountains at your doorstep and short commute times, further help to make Quebec City a compelling alternative to Montreal.

Waterloo Region, #4 in the Tech Talent ranking, might have a tenth of the population of the GTA, but it is nevertheless one of the most important tech centres in Canada. The Region has the second-highest density of startups in the world and produces a highly qualified tech labour force through its renowned post-secondary schools.

In the last five years, Tech Talent in Waterloo Region grew at an astounding 51.4%, the highest of all the mid-sized markets. In the same timeframe, the number of software developers and programmers in the Region grew by 73.9%, and they stand to make an average annual salary of $95,139. And with a benchmark home price just south of $635,000, Waterloo Region is a very affordable place to live.

Calgary, #6, saw its 2020 Tech Talent score increase by 5.6 points, making this city one of the most improved in this year’s ranking. Calgary has been encouraging tech firms to locate there as it seeks to diversify its oil-centric economy.

Tech firms can take advantage of a softened office leasing market to secure space in Class A office buildings at competitive rents. And tech labour benefits from home prices that are about $600,000 less than in Vancouver while still maintaining easy access to the hills.

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