Silicone Valley of the North: The Human Capital in Canada
Canada has positioned itself as a prime tech destination for businesses, because of the quality of the Canadian workforce.
The reason for this exceptional talent is three-fold. Canada boasts some world-class universities, the population is highly educated, and there is a large pool of workers specializing in technological fields.
This has allowed local economies to thrive, attracting top talent, but also presenting a labour shortage in the tech industry which the Canadian government is attempting to fill.
Canada is able to represent itself as a prime tech destination on the world stage in large part due to the number of world-class universities, and the focus on tech based programs.
Canada boasts six universities that rank in the top 150 universities in the world, and the Canadian educational system ranks in the top 5 globally. In particular, the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo both rank as some of the best computer science schools, according to the World Economic Forum. Over 116,000 international students come to Ontario alone each year to study.
These universities serve as the kernel of technology ecosystems, with mini silicone valleys expanding out from them. That’s because top researchers and institutes work collaboratively with the local businesses in a concentrated area.
The Kitchener –Waterloo area, where the University of Waterloo is located, has the second highest number of startups per capita, and features over 15,000 tech companies, 200,000 tech workers, and 5,200 tech startups. Companies of note that have offices in the area include Shopify, Google, Oracle, and Amazon.
Highly Educated Population
Since 2010, Canada has maintained itself as the most educated country. Over 56.7% of Canadian adults have a post-secondary degree, a full 10 points higher than the United States.
Canadians value education and the Ontario government supports those wishing to complete a university degree. There are a variety of pathways into universities, which may place emphasis on maturity and experience over high school marks. There are federal and provincial government programs that provide financial assistance to students in the forms of loans and grants, to help them continue through school while they work at reduced hours.
Large Pool of Workers in Tech
Technology is the way of the future, and tech workers are being attracted to Canada at an exponential rate.
According to a recent report by American commercial real estate company Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis (CBRE) Toronto is North America’s fastest growing technology market, outpacing any city in the United States. This, combined with a discounted Canadian dollar, has made Canada an attractive landing space for US tech companies to set up shop. Over 38% of US based organizations say they are considering expanding north, and 21% already have at least one office there.
Compared to the United States, it is also easier to enter Canada and gain permanent residency. New policies have made it harder for US companies to bring in foreign talent. Meanwhile Canada’s immigration policy is particularly friendly to those with tech education and experience. In fact, those with tech degrees are targeted for entry to fill labour shortage gaps.