Calgary joined Los Angeles / Orange County and Detroit with the biggest year-over-year jump in survey rankings. The surge occurred during the global pandemic, suggesting that the tech sector was somewhat insulated from the crisis that resulted in tens of thousands of job losses in Alberta.
The Scoring Tech Talent report is published annually and this is the ninth edition. It examines the top 50 North American markets and measures their ability to attract and develop technological talent.
“This is huge for us,” said Brad Parry, interim CEO and president of Calgary Economic Development, an agency that works to diversify the city’s economy.
Parry says Calgary placed in the top 50 last year and has now moved up to 28th place.
“The fact that we’ve seen so many gains in just one year is phenomenal for us, we’re thrilled with it,” he said.
“They are finally recognizing what is happening in our community. Amazing companies doing such cool stuff – it’s starting to get the word out, you know. It doesn’t hurt that we’ve had a few unicorns lately. So that always helps grab people’s attention, ”said Parry, who refers to Benevity’s recent $ 1 billion deal.
“It’s really starting to build that pool of beliefs in what’s really going on here and make it a compelling industry for us. “
‘Long way to go’
Although Calgary has now placed in the top 30 in North America, CBRE warns the city should not stand idly by and profit from the positive change.
“This is great news, but people shouldn’t be resting on our rankings or our laurels,” said Greg Kwong, regional general manager of CBRE’s Prairie region.
“We still have a long way to go,” he said.
Kwong thanks post-secondary institutions for helping to diversify the city’s energy-dependent economy.
“Calgary’s education system has finally taken a small turn and is starting to recruit software engineers rather than petroleum engineers. “
He says it is an option for unemployed oil professionals to consider transitioning to the tech sector. He says it would increase the city’s tech talent pool, help tech companies grow or move here, and start filling the estimated 15 million square feet of empty downtown office space.
“If we can rotate these people, re-educate them and get them involved in the tech industry, there are a lot of jobs ahead of them,” Kwong said.
Calgary – and the other seven Canadian markets listed in the survey – were recognized as the most affordable technology markets in terms of home and office rents.
The survey found that 46,700 people were employed in the tech industry in Calgary in 2020, an increase of 17.9% since 2015. The majority of those jobs were held by software developers and programmers, as well as by IT support, databases and systems employees.
Toronto ranked fourth in the survey, the highest of any Canadian city. Next come Ottawa (10), Vancouver (11), Montreal (16), the region of Waterloo (21), Quebec (34) and Edmonton (38). The capital of Alberta ranked in the top 50 for the first time and has recorded the highest growth rate of tech talent of any city in the past five years.
Ottawa is the top ranked market in North America for concentration of tech jobs, with tech jobs accounting for 11.6 percent of total jobs. Calgary is at 7.1 percent.
Pioneering tech giant has started in Calgary
Critical Mass, a digital marketing and design agency, started in Calgary 25 years ago. Today it has 1,000 employees worldwide, 300 of whom are still based in the city. Some of the company’s clients have included BMW, Nissan, ASICS, and Citibank.
The company’s director of talent said it was exciting to see the city’s economy diversify – with more tech startups, an expanded pool of tech talent – all helping to attract candidates to the city.
“Now there are other opportunities, because retention is always a challenge,” said Sara Anhorn.
“But if that, you know, brings people into the city first, and they know that there are other spaces and other opportunities that they can take advantage of, it’s a win-win situation. the world. “
This means the business won’t have to look that far to attract people – and there are opportunities in virtually every location of the business, including Calgary.
Expansion, jobs expected
Kwong expects more good news in the coming months as more tech companies look to expand in Calgary.
“I can assure you that there are big contracts that will be announced by the end of the year,” he said.
“No head office moves here in a big way, but a lot of big branches of branded tech companies that we all know. So, yes, that’s good news. ”
Bryan Labby is a corporate reporter for CBC Calgary. If you have a great story idea or tip, you can join it at [email protected] or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.