Vancouver ranked first in high tech job growth among the top 50 tech markets in North America, according to the latest CBRE Scoring Tech Talent report.

The report analyzed 75 North American markets and ranked the top 50 tech markets in the United States and Canada, positioning each tech talent market against its competitors. Vancouver ranked as the No. 8 tech hub in North America, the same as last year, and No. 2 among Canadian cities after Toronto, which was ranked fifth.

The high Vancouver ranking in the CRBE report is attributed to its fast-growing tech industry.

Vancouver and Toronto recorded the most high-tech job growth on the continent in 2020 and 2021 combined, with Vancouver seeing a 44.2% growth in the number of high-tech jobs, the highest percentage increase of the top 30 tech hubs in Canada and the United States. In real numbers, Vancouver added 28,300 tech jobs over the two-year period. Moreover, the Vancouver tech industry saw the highest five-year growth rate (68.6%) between 2017 and 2022 in terms of total tech occupations.

“The scorecard shows how competitive and tightly clustered the top tech markets are right now. After a period of hypergrowth, the global tech sector is facing headwinds, and like many other sectors of the economy, tech has had to adjust to changing economic circumstances with office right-sizing and layoffs,” CBRE Canada Chairman Paul Morassutti said in a press release.

“Regardless of these short-term trends, Canadian cities have a solid tech employment base and job growth in Canadian markets such as Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal are among the highest in North America. Canadian tech is on a path to more a normalized, sustainable growth trajectory which will make for a healthier sector in the long run. You could say that Canada’s tech sector has shifted from office-market juggernaut to a sleeping giant in the short-term.”

According to the report, 29,932 more jobs were created in Vancouver than the number of tech degree graduates over the past five years, second only to Toronto. And the population of Vancouver workers in their 30s, a significant gauge of workforce expansion, has surged by 16% since 2016, which was second-highest among major cities in North America.

Besides the high-tech job growth, Vancouver’s high CBRE ranking can be attributed to several factors, including:

Talent availability: Vancouver and Victoria ranked highly in the CBRE’s national tech talent report, which looks at three main factors: talent availability, quality of labour, and cost competitiveness.

Quality of labour: Vancouver’s highly skilled workforce is a significant factor in its success as a tech hub.

Cost competitiveness: Vancouver’s cost competitiveness is also a factor in its high ranking, as it is less expensive than San Francisco and New York.

Overall, Vancouver’s combination of high-tech job growth, tech talent concentration, and availability of highly skilled labour, along with its cost competitiveness, contributed to its high ranking in the CBRE Tech 30 report as the No. 8 tech hub in North America and the No. 2 among Canadian cities after Toronto.

“The labour market for tech talent is still very competitive, even amid a slower economy and layoffs, however it’s loosened enough to create hiring opportunities for non-tech companies,” said Colin Yasukochi, Executive Director of CBRE’s Tech Insights Center. “As tech talent gets redistributed across other industries, our economy becomes more digital and that could spur new growth for the tech industry.

“Artificial intelligence has seen a surge in venture capital funding, a positive indicator for the future growth of tech.”

Some of the challenges that Vancouver faces in improving the quality of labour in the tech industry include:

Scaling up small tech companies: Vancouver, like other Canadian cities, faces challenges in scaling up small tech companies. This can hinder the growth and development of these companies and limit their ability to attract and retain top talent.

Labour shortages: Labour shortages are an issue across industries in British Columbia, including the tech sector. The demand for skilled tech workers often exceeds the available supply, making it challenging for companies to find and hire qualified candidates.

Competition for talent: Vancouver is not the only city experiencing growth in the tech industry. Other major tech hubs, both within Canada and internationally, are also vying for top tech talent. This competition can make it more difficult for Vancouver to attract and retain highly skilled workers.

Rising input costs: The rising cost of inputs, such as office space and infrastructure, can pose challenges for tech companies in Vancouver. Higher costs can impact a company’s ability to invest in talent development and innovation.

Employee retention: Retaining skilled employees can be a challenge in Vancouver’s tight labour market. Other industries, such as accommodation and food services, also face significant challenges in retaining skilled employees, which can create competition for talent within the labour market.

These challenges highlight the need for ongoing efforts to address labour shortages, support the growth of small tech companies, and create an environment that attracts and retains top tech talent in Vancouver’s tech industry.

Published on August 11, 2023.