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This article was published 24/11/2017 (1404 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg made it in just under the wire at No. 9 in the top 10 cities in Canada in a report on tech-talent clusters in Canada. But some of the metrics point to good growth prospects for the future.
Not surprisingly, Toronto scored highest in the 2017 Scoring Canadian Tech Talent report, adding 51,300 tech jobs between 2011 and 2016. The Waterloo region in Ontario clocked in as the fastest-growing tech-talent market, growing 65.6 per cent in that period.
But Winnipeg held its own in the report produced by CBRE, one of the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firms, generating 2,800 new jobs in the past five years.
Ryan Behie, who leads CBRE’s Manitoba operations, said, "Winnipeg may not be the biggest tech market, but it is one of the fastest growing."
In a category CBRE refers to as "high technology" jobs, referring to very high-skill positions, the Winnipeg workforce grew by 50 per cent over the past five years, a growth rate in that category second only to Waterloo.
The report states Winnipeg has a tech workforce of 15,400 that has grown by 22.6 per cent over the past five years.
Kathy Knight, CEO of ICTAM (Information and Communication Technologies Association of Manitoba), was not surprised the city made it into the top 10.
She figures there are about 630 pure technology companies in the province and about 1,500 jobs that need to be filled annually.
"A lot of our growth is being driven by companies like Farmers Edge and Skip the Dishes," she said.
Although Josh Simair, the company’s CEO, would not confirm it, Knight said Skip the Dishes on its own is looking to fill about 1,000 jobs over the next 12 months.
Behie didn’t know the actual number of positions that company needs to fill, but he does know how much space the company is now leasing.
"This year, Skip has leased about 45,000 square feet of space (in addition to the 15,000 it already has) in the Exchange District," Behie said. "That’s equal to about four floors in 210 Portage Ave."
Winnipeg ranks as one of the lowest-cost real estate markets, but the CBRE report notes that even though leasing space is the second-biggest operating cost for technology companies, it’s often not a barrier in choosing a market. Tech companies place a high value on markets that contain other tech firms.
When it comes to access to talent, Knight said every market has the same challenge, including Waterloo, whose startup scene is still being driven by former BlackBerry employees.
"Our unemployment in the tech sector is under three per cent, so effectively, the sector is fully employed," Knight said.
"Our best strategy going forward is looking at how we can develop the growing pool of talent we have from immigrant and Indigenous communities."
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.
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