Alberta’s two biggest cities ranked low in tech appeal

Calgary was ranked sixth and Edmonton 10th in the 2019 Canadian Tech Talent report. Toronto was tops with 54 per cent growth in five years

Calgary is sixth overall in a national report ranking major Canadian cities on competitive advantages and appeal to tech workers and employers.

The 2019 Canadian Tech Talent report, by commercial real estate firm CBRE, placed Calgary behind Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Waterloo Region and Montreal. Edmonton was ranked 10th.

The report said Calgary has 38,500 people in its labour pool for tech, a decline of 6.8 per cent between 2013 and 2018. Its percentage of tech occupations as a percentage of total employment is 5.5 per cent and the report rated its quality of labour A.

Edmonton has 28,400 tech workers, a 25.7 per cent increase in that five year period. Its percentage of tech occupations is 4.2 per cent and, like Calgary, it had a quality of labour rating of A.

Toronto is tops for Canadian tech talent. It added 80,100 tech jobs between 2013 and 2018 (54 per cent growth), far outpacing the nation’s other leading tech centres, said the CBRE report.

Edmonton experienced a close to 26 per cent increase in tech jobs in the past five years, moving into the Top 10 list.

“Although Canada’s major markets have deep pools of tech talent and are globally competitive, the competition for office space is fierce and tech tenants are having to be decisive and creative when it comes to their real estate,” CBRE Canada Vice-Chairman Paul Morassutti said in a statement.

Mid- and small-sized markets are gathering major momentum because they offer tech firms greater availability of office space, operational cost savings, and untapped talent pools, Morassutti said.

“It says something that the two largest ranking improvements were in Victoria and Oshawa, and the largest venture capital deal was in St. John’s,” he said.

The report said tech labour concentration is an influential factor in ranking how “tech” a market is and what its growth potential might be. Ottawa has a 9.9 per cent concentration of tech workers, nearly double the Canadian average of 5.3 per cent and only slightly behind San Francisco’s North America-leading 10.0 per cent.

“Labour is by far the largest expense for most firms, particularly those seeking tech talent, therefore the quality of that talent is crucial. The top five Canadian tech talent cities are also those that produce the highest number of tech graduates,” the report said.

“Montreal has three of the top 10 university computer science programs and produces the highest volume of tech graduates, followed by Toronto, Vancouver, Waterloo Region and Ottawa. Halifax (No. 11 in the overall Tech Talent ranking) and Edmonton each produce over 1,000 tech degrees annually.

“Combining wage and real estate costs offers insight into what a tech firm might pay to operate in a city. Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa have the highest combined rent and wage costs, at more than $40 million per year. Most affordable of all are Moncton (No. 20 in the overall Tech Talent ranking), Quebec City (No. 8) and London (No. 14). Montreal is the most cost-competitive of Canada’s large tech centres.”

Mario Toneguzzi is a business reporter in Calgary.

© Calgary’s Business

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