Tech talent flooding to Vancouver as 28k workers added over five years: CBRE

H+Technology co-founder Dhruv Adhia | Dominic Schaefer, BIV file photos

What happened: Access to tech talent in Vancouver surges 48%, according to new research

Why it matters: Increasing number of U.S. tech companies turning to city for low-cost, high-quality talent

Vancouver’s picturesque appeal hasn’t been lost on those who spend much of their working days hunkered down in (home) offices.

The city has added 27,500 tech workers to its labour pool of highly sought-after tech workers over the past five years, according to research released Tuesday (November 17) from real estate services firm CBRE Group Inc.

That figure is second only to Toronto — which added 66,900 tech jobs from 2014-19 — and represents a 47.9% surge over five years.

The city now boasts a pool of 84,900 tech workers at its disposal, which is proving to be a draw for international tech firms such as Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq:AMZN) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT) — the two largest occupiers of downtown real estate, according to CBRE.

“From the North American perspective, the skilled pool of Canadian tech workers paid in discounted Canadian dollars is a significant draw for companies contemplating where to expand operations,” the report states.

“In particular, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Edmonton provide the best value in North America when it comes to cost and quality. All are within several percentage points of coming in at half the cost of operating in the San Francisco Bay Area.”

The report found that average wage and rent obligation for a typical tech firm over a one-year period tallies in at $39.8 million in Vancouver and $40.6 million in Victoria.

That figure sits at $82.3 million for the San Francisco Bay Area.

Those calculations are based on average gross rent of 75,000 square feet, average wages paid out to 250 tech workers, average wages paid out to 211 non-tech support staff and average management wages paid out to 39 people.

Overall, the tech labour force represents 7% of total employment in Vancouver.

Despite the strong job growth, Vancouver remained static in CBRE’s annual 2020 Scoring Tech Talent rankings as the No. 3 tech hub in Canada.

Like last year, Toronto and Ottawa ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.

The 2019 report also noted Vancouver’s poor standings in terms of gender diversity at tech companies, however, no such data was provided in the latest research.

Only 18% of the city’s talent pool were composed of women as of last year — the same ratio as Saskatoon.

That was the second-largest gender disparity among the 20 Canadian cities ranked by CBRE.

Only Victoria — with a tech workforce composed of just 15% women — ranked worse.

Upon inquiry from BIV, a CBRE spokesman revealed Vancouver's standing revealed this year's ratio has improved slightly to 22% women vs. 78% men.

Victoria is now doing better than Vancouver with a ratio of 76% men to 24% women.

CBRE gave Vancouver an A+ grade this year for quality of labour.

Wages, meanwhile, for total tech occupations grew 11.2% over the past five years for an annual average of $84,989.

Updated November 17, 11:05 a.m. with additional data from CBRE on gender breakdowns.

torton@biv.com

@reporton