International Tech Talent is Fixated on Toronto

Look out Toronto—the world is coming.

A new survey is showing that Toronto tech companies saw an increase in international job applicants last year as several countries enacted stricter immigration laws, including the U.S.

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MaRS asked 55 companies based primarily in Toronto with over $1 million in annual revenue about their hiring processes and found that 53 per cent have seen an increase in international applicants in 2017 as compared to 2016. Close to half of respondents companies actually made international hires over the last year.

It’s no secret that foreign talent is looking to come to Canada, and even specifically Toronto, to search for new jobs. Considering it has always been the other way around—new graduates shunning local companies and looking to work with the Googles and Facebooks of the world—this is a welcome change.

Several organizations and companies have popped up to aid in the process as well. The Global Skills Hub launched earlier this month to ease the process of recruiting of non-North American job seekers to the country. From the North American perspective, reports like Global Tech Hiring in the Trump Era show that Canada is the top choice for U.S. citizens since the 2016 election.

Global Tech Hiring in the Trump Era found that 40 per cent of survey respondents have considered moving for work since President Trump was elected in November 2016.
A 2017 study found that 40 per cent of U.S. survey respondents have considered moving for work since President Trump was elected. This is where they wanted to move.

In terms of this new MaRS study, many of the companies that were surveyed cited immigration reform as a key factor that influences competitiveness.

But the problem could be where this new international talent is actually landing. One would hope it is a Canadian company, but a recent Indeed study found that only half of the top 10 companies in Canada that actively hire tech talent were founded in Canada. If international talent is coming to the country to work for a foreign entity, it may not even be worth it in the long run.

Still, Canada is doing all they can to attract new talent. The federal government made the Startup Visa program a permanent initiative in mid-2017, which grants permanent residency to entrepreneurs if a Canadian venture capital fund or angel investor group invests in their business, or if they are accepted into a business incubator. The MaRS study indicates that 35 per cent of responding companies used this expedited visa program.

Even if some of the new tech talent does end up working for non-Canadian companies, the influx still means good things for both Toronto’s and Canada’s technology ecosystem.