top tech markets

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Total tech employment in Canada has increased by nearly 25 per cent over the last five years, and currently Toronto and Vancouver are the country’s top tech markets overall. However, according to CBRE Canada, smaller and less expensive cities are leading the way when it comes to tech job growth.

Those are a couple of highlights from the firm’s inaugural Scoring Tech Talent Report, released November 7th. In it, 13 unique metrics are used to rank 10 of Canada’s largest cities on their competitive advantages and appeal to tech workers and employers. As the infographic below shows, Toronto and Vancouver scored 83.94 and 67.25, respectively, while Ottawa, Montreal and Calgary followed close behind. All scores are out of 100.

tech market chart 1

Infographic: CBRE Canada

The two biggest costs for tech employers are generally employee wages and office rent, and Raymond Wong, head of research at CBRE Canada, notes that part of the reason that Toronto and Vancouver are attractive to tech employers is that in both cities those costs tend to balance out.

“Despite the higher cost of real estate in Toronto and Vancouver, this is dwarfed by the cost of wages. So lower salaries than other Canadian cities still make these large tech centres an affordable option for many companies,” said Wong. He added that Toronto and Vancouver are also attractive because they offer a more educated labour pool and “already provide established tech networks and communities.”

That might sound like a bad deal for tech employees in Toronto and Vancouver, which are known for being Canada’s hottest housing markets, but CBRE Canada’s report shows that even in those cities, “tech wages are able to cover the high cost of living based on standard affordability measures which suggest allocating no more than 30% of income to housing.”

tech market chart 2

Infographic: CBRE Canada

Interestingly, despite being appealing for tech employers and employees alike, Toronto and Vancouver aren’t Canada’s top cities for tech job growth. As mentioned, they are being outpaced by smaller and less expensive cities — the infographic above shows that over the last five years, Waterloo and Winnipeg have seen stronger tech job growth than both Toronto and Vancouver, while Halifax’s tech job growth is on par with Vancouver’s and well ahead of Toronto’s.

“What’s interesting to note is that the markets with the highest rates of tech jobs growth, Waterloo, Winnipeg and Halifax, are all in the bottom half of our rankings of overall cost to operate,” said Wong. In contrast, Vancouver and Toronto are in the top half. 

For Wong, that indicates that tech employers aren’t afraid to branch out from Canada’s leading tech markets if it means their operating costs will be lower. “It’s clear that firms are targeting cities which provide a cheaper access to labour, but also provide educational attainment levels which are markedly higher than the national basis,” he concluded.

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