Waterloo is the fastest growing technology hub in Canada, and is second only to the US city of Charlotte in North America, according to commercial real estate and investment firm CBRE’s latest technology talent ranking.
More than anything else, Waterloo reportedly offers the highest concentration of quality tech talent. Tech jobs in Waterloo grew at a staggering 62% in the space of past five years, creating more than 5,600 jobs in 2016 alone, according to the report.
There are about 776,000 tech jobs in Canada, representing as much as 5% of the country’s total workforce. In the Waterloo region, however, they account for 8.6% of the total jobs, the study shows.
Technology jobs in the region include computer support and database systems workers, technology and engineering, software developers and programmers, and computer systems managers.
Nationally, the number of tech talent workers has increased 21.7% from 2011 to 2016, adding more than 130,000 jobs to the Canadian economy. Analysts attribute the country’s growing success in the technology sector to its new immigration law that makes it easier for businesses to bring in high-skilled tech talent from overseas.
“Compared to the rest of North America, the Canadian labor pool offers great options for companies contemplating where to set up shop, especially when taking into consideration the lower Canadian dollar relative to the US and lower wages in general,” the report added.
Real estate prices and salaries are also a factor. For a sample company with 500 employees and a 75,000 square feet space in the Waterloo region it would cost about US$28.8 million a year in wages and rent, which is substantially cheaper than the US$34 million it would cost in Calgary, the report estimates.
Adding to its reputation as a tech hub, Waterloo is also home to two major computing research facilities: the Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano center at the University of Waterloo and the Institute for Quantum Computing.
The region, according to the report, is also benefiting from nearby incubators and innovation labs including Communitech, Velocity, and the Accelerator Center, the Innovation District in downtown Kitchener, and the Idea Quarter.