It looks like Ontario’s capital has earned its reputation as “Silicon Valley North.”
A new report by industry organization TechToronto has found that more than 400,000, or 15 per cent, of the city’s jobs are connected to what it calls the “tech ecosystem,” including 231,000 tech jobs at non-tech companies and 72,000 non-tech jobs at tech companies.
Moreover, the city’s tech ecosystem is experiencing a period of rapid growth, with 51,000 new jobs added during the past six years – and nearly 49 per cent of that growth attributable to the city itself.
“TechToronto believes… that the average Torontonian doesn’t appreciate the extent to which technology has already transformed our economy,” the report’s authors write. “The Internet, mobile technologies, wearables, big data and machine learning have created thousands of new companies and jobs in Toronto.”
As the study’s researchers note, in recent years Canada’s economy has been quite healthy, and 41.5 per cent of the jobs created over the past six years can be attributed to nationwide growth. Another 9.8 per cent can be attributed to steady tech-related growth nationwide in cities such as Vancouver and Waterloo, leading to the industry’s current reputation for having a wide “skills gap” between the number of open jobs and the number of workers available to fill them.
However, this still means 48.8 per cent of growth can be attributed to unique technology-friendly factors within the city itself, they wrote, with Toronto adding 25,000 more jobs than expected during the six-year period thanks to a mix of its decentralized tech sector, competitive salaries, and startup environment, which they noted currently supports between 2500 and 4100 active tech startups in addition to being Canada’s most startup-friendly city according to e-commerce firm Compass’s 2015 rankings.
To conduct the study, TechToronto collaborated with researchers from the Innovation Policy Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, economic data analysis firm Emsi, and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
In the city’s tech ecosystem, they incorporated 14 sectors (below), while defining “Toronto” as both the city itself and its neighbouring Peel and York census divisions, including tech-heavy suburbs Markham and Mississauga (but not Waterloo).
Collectively the region was home to 5.4 million people, including 2.7 million employees, in 2015.
In addition to the job numbers, TechToronto found that the ecosystem’s most common jobs by far were information information systems analysts and consultants; and computer programmers and interactive media developers, which collectively represented over 49,000 of the city’s tech workforce.
The next top three – software engineers and designers; computer and information systems managers; and computer network technicians – represented around 19,000.
You can find out more about the study, which includes a list of recommendations to ensure Toronto maintains its leadership in Canada’s tech world, here.
Among TechToronto’s suggestions: introduce a fast-track immigration visa for tech labour; increase enrollment and diversity in postsecondary STEM programs; pay companies to train and hire re-trained workers; and create a universal incubator database.