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Waterloo tops CBRE list of North America's small tech talent markets

A new CBRE report lists Waterloo as one of North America's top tech talent markets, ahead of Pittsburgh, Columbus, Chicago and Charlotte.

The newest CBRE “Scoring Tech Talent” report has identified Waterloo as the #1 small tech talent market in North America.

The report, which CBRE releases annually, is a comprehensive analysis of labour market conditions, cost and quality for highly skilled tech workers in North America. The top-50 markets in the United States and Canada were ranked according to their competitive advantages and appeal to both employers and employees.

Punching above our weight

In addition to being the top-ranked small tech talent market, CBRE also ranked Waterloo #21 overall for tech talent in North America. This incredible achievement puts us ahead of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago, Madison, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Charlotte and Columbus, all of which are substantially larger communities.

Furthermore, the new ranking puts Waterloo at #2 among the top-50 tech hubs in North America for tech talent growth rate and #4 for tech talent density. We were also ranked #4 overall for tech talent quality and #1 for tech talent quality in Canada.

Taking a deeper dive into the report, Waterloo has the fastest-growing millennial (age 23-28) population, the lowest costs and the fourth highest tech talent quality among the North American top-50.

This report is an excellent third-party validation of our “5 Charts” series, which demonstrated that Waterloo offered significant advantages over other tech hubs that fit in the “small tech talent markets” category, including Columbus and Pittsburgh.

In previous years, Waterloo was ranked #1 in the “emerging tech talent market” category, which highlights communities with strong tech talent credentials that aren’t comparable to the top-50 communities due to size.

What’s driving Waterloo’s ascent in the CBRE rankings?

Waterloo: a tech ecosystem on fire

It begins, obviously, with talent. The University of Waterloo is Canada’s top technology school – recently ranked top-25 globally for computer science – and the largest tech talent producer in Canada.

The university has more students enrolled in engineering programs than MIT and Stanford combined and more students enrolled in computer science than Carnegie Mellon, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor or University of Texas at Austin.

It’s not just new talent – growth in our experienced talent pool is what pushed Waterloo into the new CBRE category.

Talent is drawn to exciting opportunities and Waterloo has more than a few of those. In the last month, three local unicorns – Faire, ApplyBoard and Arctic Wolf – have announced nearly $800 million in new investment.

We’ve attracted substantial new investments from renowned tech companies like MasterClass and EPAM Systems and Google Canada is in the midst of a significant expansion of its Waterloo-based engineering headquarters.

When Deloitte released its list of Canada’s 50 fastest-growing tech companies last year, 22% of them were located here. This is where the opportunity is for business and talent alike.

Canada takes over North American tech

The CBRE report also tells an overwhelmingly positive story about tech in Canada. Toronto is ranked #4 overall and Canadian cities constitute three of the five fastest growing “large tech talent markets” in North America. Canadian cities also dominate North American brain gain metrics, holding seven of the top twelve spots.

You can find more information from CBRE’s scoring tech talent report on their website.

Want more information about the Waterloo tech ecosystem?

Contact the Waterloo EDC team. We can provide custom data to help your company make its expansion decision, connect you with local leaders and talent sources, real estate experts and more – all for free.