Ottawa climbs into top-10 in ranking of North American tech talent hubs


Ottawa’s high concentration of skilled workers helped the nation’s capital crack the top-10 in an annual ranking of Canadian and U.S. tech hubs compiled by a global real estate firm.

CBRE’s 2021 Scoring Tech Talent report ranks 50 North American markets according to each city’s ability to attract and grow tech talent by measuring tech graduation rates, tech-job concentration, tech labour pool size as well as labour and real estate costs, among other factors.

Ottawa moved up four spots in 2021, climbing into 10th place. That puts it ahead of Vancouver (No. 11) and Montreal (No. 16), but behind Toronto (No. 4). The list was topped by San Francisco’s Bay Area, followed by Seattle and Washington, D.C.

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According to CBRE’s calculations, tech employment in Ottawa grew by 22.5 per cent between 2015 and 2020. It says the city now has 74,000 workers in its tech talent labour pool, which the real estate firm defines as 20 key tech professions including software developers, systems and data managers and others across all industries.

(By contrast, data from Statistics Canada – which defines tech employment more narrowly around information and communication technology firms – paints a picture of relative stability during the same period at around 40,000 workers in Ottawa.)

Ottawa scores high marks for having the highest concentration of tech talent, relative to its overall workforce, of any city in the top-50. Canada’s capital also received a boost for being one of the most affordable real estate markets in North America for tech firms.

Louis Karam, managing director of CBRE Ottawa, said the report should be a source of pride and optimism for the city.

“It signals that we are in a position of strength coming out of the pandemic,” Karam said in a statement. “Never before has it been more important to leverage this tech talent advantage to help our local economy thrive post-COVID.”

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