CBRE report: Waterloo is Canada’s fastest-growing tech talent market

According to CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm, Waterloo is Canada’s fastest growing tech talent market. The region has grown by two-thirds over the last five years, but Toronto is still the leader in terms of the absolute growth of its tech labour pool.

CBRE’s 2017 Scoring Canadian Tech Talent Report shows that the Waterloo Region added 8,400 tech jobs from 2011 to 2016 — a 65.6 percent growth rate — and the second fastest rate of growth in the North American ecosystem.

The data shows that Toronto still attracts the most tech employers and employees after expanding by 51,300 more tech jobs — a 31.8 percent increase for the city — over the same five-year period. Overall, Canada added 138,300 tech jobs between 2011 and 2016, an increase of 21.7 percent.

Ottawa, Waterloo Region and Toronto offer the highest concentration of tech talent.
– Paul Morassutti, CBRE Canada

“Cities across North America are jockeying for the attention of leading tech firms, and it’s increasingly clear which cities are leading the pack. Waterloo Region continues to show its strength as one of Canada’s top tech markets and a major engine of innovation for the Canadian economy. Not only is it the fastest growing over the five-year period, it is also the fastest growing market year-over-year, adding 5,600 jobs alone in 2016, an increase of almost a third in a single year,” said Paul Morassutti, executive managing director at CBRE Canada.

“Even after the fall of Blackberry, which was once one of Waterloo Region’s top tech employers, the region continues to benefit from clustering of the high-tech industry. Companies such as Shopify are attracted to the collaborative and competitive environment that supports entrepreneurship, innovation and development.”

The report, which was published for the second consecutive year, looked at 10 of Canada’s largest cities to rank their tech talent. The final list was compiled based on 14 metrics, including tech talent supply, growth, concentration, cost, completed degrees, industry outlook for job growth, and market outlook for both office and apartment rent cost growth. The regions were given a total score out of 100 to reflect their appeal for tech employers and employees. Physical real estate, access to talent, and wages were identified as the key components in opening and expanding operations, and deciding on locations.

Toronto was at the top of the list for a second year; Ottawa and Vancouver traded positions, in second and third position. The report mentions that Vancouver offers very high quality labour at a moderate cost, but the city experienced flat tech job growth in 2016. Ottawa increased its tech talent base by 11.9 percent, or 7,300 jobs over the same year. Montreal and the Waterloo Region also made it into the top five list, while Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Winnipeg, and London were ranked six to 10.

“Although value continues to influence office location decisions, tech companies are putting more stock
on the availability and concentration of quality talent,” said Morassutti. “Ottawa, Waterloo Region, and Toronto all offer the highest concentration of tech talent, with tech jobs in Ottawa accounting for over one-in-ten of all jobs in the city. These were also the fastest growing markets in 2016. As the influence of tech among all industries rises, and the battle to attract and retain tech talent is no longer fought by traditional tech firms alone, it’s no surprise companies are willing to embrace higher costs in order to be where the talent is.”

The full report is available here.


Aeman Ansari

Aeman Ansari is a freelance writer who has been published in many Toronto-based publications, including Hazlitt and Torontoist. When she’s not re-watching Hitchcock movies, she’s working on her collection of short fiction inspired by stories from her grandmother, one of the few women in India to receive post-secondary education in English literature at the time.

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