Kitchener-Waterloo is Canada’s Fastest Growing Market for Tech Talent

Waterloo Region is leading the country when it comes to tech job growth for the second year in a row.

The region of Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge has been named Canada’s fastest growing tech talent market, increasing its talent pool by nearly 66 per in the last five years and adding 8,400 tech jobs.

Kitchener-Waterloo’s thriving startup scene and tech scene is the second fastest growing market in North America too, trailing only Charlotte, North Carolina who increased their pool by 77 per cent.

Those numbers come from CBRE’s 2017 Scoring Canadian Tech Talent—the firm’s second annual report—that ranked Canada’s 10 largest cities when it comes to each region’s appeal for tech talent and companies.

“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,” said Paul Morassutti, CBRE Canada’s executive managing director.

Six tech companies in the Waterloo Region were recently named in Deloitte’s Fast 50 too—an annual list that ranks the country’s fastest-growing companies—including Kitchener-based video marketing pioneer Vidyard.

While Shopify isn’t based in Kitchener-Waterloo, it’s taking a big bet on the region’s tech talent by opening up a second office that will create 300 to 500 jobs over the next three years. The Ottawa-headquartered company first expanded into Waterloo in 2016.

“Companies such as Shopify are attracted to the collaborative and competitive environment that supports entrepreneurship, innovation and development,” Morassutti said.

But Toronto is still king when it comes to being the top tech market in the country for companies and employees.

In CBRE’s top ten scorecard ranking, Toronto clinched the number one spot with 81.6 out of 100 points. The city’s accelerating AI-focused and fintech companies helped fuel an additional 51,300 tech jobs in Toronto over the past five years, a boost of almost 32 per cent.

The nation’s capital slides into second, with Ottawa’s labour force claiming the highest education attainment among all cities surveyed.

“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,” said Morassutti.

Vancouver and Montreal were ranked third and fourth respectively. Waterloo Region closely followed with a score of 58.5, jumping up three ranks and 25 points from last year. Although it has one of the country’s highest labour costs, Waterloo Region boasts the highest quality tech talent.

CBRE Report_Talent
Waterloo Region beats other cities for quality tech talent. The costs reflect the average annual salary for software engineers.

Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Winnipeg and London were ranked six to 10.

Scorecard rankings were 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.