Canadian tech salaries jumped 38 percent since 2019, but attracting talent is tough: reports

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Deel report pegged Canadian rise in salaries as second fastest globally.

Thanks to the pandemic, Canadians working in sales, marketing, and product saw their salaries jump 38 percent in 2021, the second fastest-rising rate only after Mexico. The latter country’s salaries spiked by 57 percent, according to a new report from Deel.

Deel, a global hiring and payroll startup, published the information in its newly released State of Hiring Report 2021. The startup used data pulled from more than 100,000 work contracts from over 150 countries, along with 500,000 third-party data points. The trends in the report were tracked from July to December 2021.

“Forty percent of employers reported losing talent to higher-paying jobs.”

“Global hiring has never been more popular between pandemic-related office closures, fierce talent competition, and a bevy of online tools enabling collaboration and reducing hiring complications,” the report noted.

The report – really, more of a snapshot – noted that North America trailed other regions when it came to the growth rate of hiring into regions. North America’s growth rate was 81 percent compared to Latin America, the leader at 156 percent.

Hot jobs currently include SEO specialist; digital, growth and content roles; account executives; and product managers, among others. The job fields with the biggest average salary increases are marketing, sales, and product, respectively at 49 percent, 13 percent, and six percent.

It could well be that the salary increases in Canada are in direct proportion to the lack of available talent. The Innovation Economy Council (IEC) reports that more than a quarter of respondents to a 2021 survey from the global staffing firm Robert Half said they would be looking for a new position in the first half of 2022. That’s a six percent increase since the middle of the year. Fifty-nine percent of respondents were looking for a salary increase.

“In Canada, the recruitment firm Hays surveyed 4,200 employers and employees for its 2022 salary guide,” according to the IEC’s new report titled Ninjas Wanted: What Canadian Startups Need to Win the War on Talent.

“Forty percent of employers reported losing talent to higher-paying jobs,” the Hays survey found.

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The IEC reports that the Toronto incubator DMZ surveyed 42 of the companies that it helped launch, and found that 57.1 percent said that “compensation expectations present an insurmountable barrier.”

A second IEC report found that immigrant-owned businesses have become major contributors to Canadian innovation and have higher rates of job creation.

“First-and-second-generation entrepreneurs undertake 34.7 percent of all early-stage entrepreneurship in Canada — significantly higher than most other comparable economies in the European Union, Group of Seven and Group of 20,” according to the recently released report Relocation Nation: How Immigrant Tech Founders Boost Canadian Innovation.

The report cites Statistics Canada, which maintains that immigrant-owned firms in Canada tend to grow faster and have higher rates of job creation than those owned by Canadian-born entrepreneurs. The report notes the need to attract and retain more immigrant entrepreneurs, which will, in turn, attract more capital to Canada and create more job opportunities.

While the report contends Canada “does immigration well,” and is committed to it, it also notes that things move quickly and that the federal government’s Start-Up Visa program has not kept pace during the pandemic. The six-to-12-month wait initially promised is now pushing three years, according to the IEC report.

“Currently, there are 26 startup visa programs globally,’ the IEC concluded. “Without picking up the pace of approvals, Canada — a location that has otherwise surpassed expectations, foreign entrepreneurs here agree — risks losing out to countries that are willing to move faster.”

The IEC report also touches upon the federal Global Skills Strategy to attract more tech talent, calling the plan to​ bring 1.2 million internationals to Canada between 2021 and 2023 “lofty” but needed for the industry.

The IEC is not alone in its thinking. Technation issued a roadmap to the leaders of the major federal political parties in the fall of 2021, warning that Canada is losing the global war for technology talent. Technation, the national group representing “the $230 billion ICT industry,” said that the “ability for Canadian businesses to fill available jobs continues to be a major challenge in a ‘borderless’ competitive global economy.”

RELATED: BDC report expects tech sector revenue to grow by 22 percent by 2024

The federal government also drew a call from a coalition of 14 Canadian municipal regions in 2021 that want to see a beefed-up foreign direct investment program. In the wake of the pandemic, The Consider Canada City Alliance (CCCA) asked for a stronger commitment from the government for funding, as well as for talent attraction, and ensuring that immigration remains key in investment attraction efforts.

The provinces have also worked on immigration strategies. Most recently the Alberta government launched a new immigration stream in 2021 meant to help tech companies solve an access to talent issue.

Alberta announced the creation of the Accelerated Tech Pathway, which will provide a fast track to permanent residence for highly skilled tech professionals that want to live and work in Alberta.

The new immigration stream – part of the federal-provincial Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) – is something the Alberta tech and innovation community had been calling for as companies face a shortage of qualified tech talent.

The Government of British Columbia also made the Provincial Nominee Program Tech Pilot permanent last year. The move followed calls from members of the province’s tech sector to do so, as the pilot version of the program was originally set to expire on June 30.

The tech stream of the program was launched four years ago and allows foreign tech workers and international students to receive nominations for permanent residence in Canada. It is a program that helps tech firms in the province attract and retain qualified talent.

Pondering what’s to lose if Canada doesn’t re-evaluate the hiring needs of early-stage startups, DMZ’s head of talent development, Shane Flynn, noted in the IEC report: “I think we lose … the potential to have the next Shopify come out of Canada. I think we lose the potential to have the next Dapper Labs come out of Vancouver.”

“Because all of these [startup] companies start, but they never get to the next stage where they become more recognizable, where they start to become potentially more established,” he added. “… I think you’ll start to see more issues like that happening and we won’t be creating those next unicorns — or narwhals — in Canada.”

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel's reporting and writing on technology has appeared in, Canadian Business, Report on Business Magazine, Canada's National Observer, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among many others. He lives off-grid in Nova Scotia.

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