Toronto has added more than 80,000 tech jobs in past five years, new report finds

Shelby Thevenot
Published: July 23, 2019

A new tech talent ranking has Toronto among the top three cities in both the United States and Canada for tech workers. 

The city locally known as “The Six” came in number three on CBRE’s Scoring Tech Talent Report, which ranks 50 U.S. and Canadian tech markets on 13 unique metrics including talent supply, completed tech degrees, and job growth— among others.

The San Francisco Bay Area took the top spot and Seattle came in second.

Toronto placed third ahead of Washington, D.C., New York City and Austin, Tex., in the overall rankings. It was also named the top city overall in terms of "brain gain," adding 80,100 tech jobs since 2013.

"Toronto's pool of tech talent grew at the fastest pace of all 50 markets measured, adding an eye-popping 80,100 tech jobs in the past five years, a 54 per cent increase," the report says.

"Toronto nearly equalled the number of tech jobs created in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2013."

In a statement, CBRE Canada Vice Chairman Paul Morassutti said the tech sector’s impact on Toronto "cannot be overstated."

"Toronto, San Francisco and Seattle are comfortably mentioned in the same sentence and are attracting the best in the industry," he said.

Other Canadian cities also performed well — Vancouver went up 13 spots to 12th place, which CBRE said was the greatest year-over-year improvement of any North American city.

Montreal came in at 13 and Canada's national capital, Ottawa, took the 19th spot overall.

Immigration programs address growing tech needs

This rapid growth has produced multiple calls for improved access to international IT talent to address growing labour shortages in the sector, leading Canada's federal government and several provinces to step up their immigration programs in response.

Express Entry

The federal government's Express Entry system is Canada's leading source of skilled foreign workers and IT professionals top the list of those invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence.

The top three most common occupations among Express Entry candidates invited in 2018 were:

  • Software engineers and designers
  • Information systems analysts and consultants
  • Computer programmers and interactive media developers

Occupation, however, is not considered when it comes to selecting Express Entry candidates, who are ranked based on scores awarded for age, education, skilled work experience and proficiency in English or French, among other factors.

The Government of Canada invites a set number of the highest-ranked candidates to apply for Canadian permanent residence through regular draws from the Express Entry pool.

Find out if you are eligible to enter the Express Entry pool

Provincial nominee options

For tech workers with CRS scores below those being drawn through Express Entry, obtaining a provincial nomination may be their ticket to permanent residence.

Express Entry candidates with a provincial nomination are awarded an additional 600 CRS points and move to the front of the line for a federal invitation to apply.

Several provincial nominee programs have tech-focused options, with the most recent addition being Ontario's new Tech Draws.

Tech Draws allow the Ontario Immigration Nominee Program to search the federal Express Entry pool for candidates with work experience in six tech occupations.

The first draw was held July 12, 2019, and yielded 1,623 invitations to Express Entry candidates with CRS scores ranging from 439 to 459. A job offer in Ontario was not required.

The Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) includes several positions for tech workers under the “Natural and applied scientists and related occupations” header of its In-Demand Occupation List.

The MPNP notes that candidates working in an in-demand occupation will be prioritized for an invitation to apply for a provincial nomination through its regular draws for skilled immigration candidates.

The MPNP also recently reduced its language requirements for computer network technicians from a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 to 5, making an invitation to apply for a provincial nomination that much easier to obtain.

Next door in Saskatchewan, computer programmers and interactive media developers were recently added to the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP)'s list of in-demand occupations.

Work experience in an occupation on the list is required in order to receive an invitation to apply for a provincial nomination through the SINP's Express Entry and Occupation In-Demand sub-categories. However, a job offer from an employer in Saskatchewan is not required.

On Canada's Pacific Coast, the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program's Tech Pilot conducts weekly invitation rounds for tech workers with an eligible job offer from a B.C. employer in one of 29 tech-related occupations.

The Tech Pilot’s two-year trial period has been extended twice and the program is now set to run until June 2020.

Canada's Global Talent Stream

Tech companies and highly skilled foreign workers can also take advantage of the Global Talent Stream, a pillar of Canada's Global Skills Strategy.

The Global Talent Stream allows Canadian companies to access temporary foreign talent in eligible occupations quickly with its two-week processing standard for both work permits and Labour Market Impact Assessments.

Occupations covered by the Global Talent Stream include computer engineers, computer programmers, software engineers and designers and web designers and developers.

Since its introduction in 2017,  more than 24,000 temporary foreign workers have been hired through the Global Talent Stream.

Benjamin Bergen, executive director of the Council of Canadian Innovators, said access to highly skilled tech talent is vital for Canadian companies as they "scale-up globally."

“Without talent, no amount of capital or customers can lift a company off its launch pad,” Bergen said in an email.

He pointed to the Global Talent Stream and now Ontario's Tech Draws as evidence that governments are getting the message about the pressing need for tech talent.

“Innovators in Ontario are hopeful that much like the Global Skills Strategy, the new tech talent stream part of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program will further help the province’s top tech firms access more of the highly-skilled talent they need to grow and expand in Canada and around the world,” he said.

Find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs

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