The latest annual survey of the tech talent market from the commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE finds that Toronto was the fastest-growing market for tech jobs in North America last year, Natalie Wong and Stefanie Marotta reported at Bloomberg last week:
The city saw 28,900 tech jobs created, 14 percent more than in 2016, for a total of more than 241,000 workers, up 52 percent over the past five years, CBRE said. Downtown, tech accounted for more than a third of demand for office space.
Canada’s biggest city took fourth place in “tech talent,” a broad measure of competitiveness, pushing New York down a notch and coming in just after the Bay Area, Seattle and the U.S. capital. CBRE ranked 50 markets across North America, using measures such as talent supply, concentration, education and cost as well as outlooks for job and rent growth for both offices and apartments.
Ottawa is also on the rise, CBRE found, ranking that city highest in terms of growth potential based on its concentration of tech talent as a percentage of the total workforce. The Canadian capital city, situated in the urban corridor between Toronto and Montreal, is currently home to over 1,700 technology companies and more than 70,000 technology workers. Ottawa is home to some of Canada’s most prestigious universities and boasts among the highest living standards in the country, so it’s no surprise to see a tech scene take root there.
The rapid rise of these Canadian tech hubs is no accident, either: Under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Canadian government has made an explicit priority of growing the industry, particularly in cutting-edge technologies like AI and robotics. While in the US, the Trump administration has moved to crack down on tech hiring from abroad through restrictions on the H-1B visa and other guest worker programs, Trudeau’s government has been promoting Canada as an alternative location for tech startups and legacy companies to set up shop, where they can enjoy easier access to a global talent market and diverse local talent communities.
Trudeau’s pitch has had some success at attracting startups to the country, though many Canadian STEM graduates still aim for jobs in Silicon Valley and other US tech hubs, where their earning potential is higher. Another potential factor limiting the growth of Canadian tech hubs like Toronto is the rising cost of living there—a common side effect of tech-driven economic booms in major cities. The West Coast city of Vancouver is also facing a shortage of affordable housing, which Amazon’s expanding presence there could exacerbate.