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Risk: Talent and Workforce

Find out how talent and workforce affect your business risk profile and how Waterloo compares to other North American communities.

North America is in the middle of a talent shortage. It doesn’t matter whether you work in manufacturing or technology, the inability to attract and retain talent – or tap into a strong workforce – presents a substantial risk to your company.

This article is part of our “Understand the Risk” series, which looks at business risk with comparative data. Articles in this series cover natural hazardsinfrastructureeconomic competitivenessstability and freedom, talent and workforce and health.

Adding wrinkles to this risk is the influence of COVID-19. Employees in multiple sectors, including tech and finance, have adapted to work-from-home and remote work during the pandemic and many prefer to keep it that way. This has fundamentally changed the way many companies operate. Similarly, there is a growing interest in remote work as employees look to more affordable areas outside major cities. In a recent report, 61% of employees told Forbes that they prefer being fully remote. It’s a significant shift that will affect how businesses evaluate the risks when choosing a location.

In this edition of our “Understand the Risk” series, we’re taking a closer look at the risks associated with talent and workforce, and how locating in Waterloo can help your company minimize those risks.

Like other mid-size cities, Waterloo is not entirely immune to the risks from these changes. But unlike comparable mid-sized cities, Waterloo has a long history of adapting to changes in the workforce and economy that make us a strong contender for expansion or relocation.

Post-secondary quality and enrollment

There are over 80,000 students enrolled in post-secondary programs at the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College. All three institutions have excellent reputations for producing top talent in computer science, engineering, business and more.

In fact, the University of Waterloo is Canada’s top technology university, one of the world’s top-25 computer science schools and home to Canada’s largest engineering school. It has more students enrolled in engineering than Stanford and MIT combined.

WEDC-RISK Talent and Workforce

Strong existing workforce

Good things grow in Ontario. Great businesses grow in Waterloo.

From manufacturing to finance and insurance, Waterloo is home to major industry leaders who employ tens of thousands of professionals across most major industries. Waterloo is also the home of tech unicorns like ApplyBoard, Arctic Wolf and Faire, as well as the location of Google’s expanding Canadian engineering headquarters. In total, more than 25,000 tech professionals are working in Waterloo and you’ll find more than 300,000 of them in the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor.

This incredible experienced tech talent is the reason why CBRE just named Waterloo the top small tech talent market in North America. Here are the top-10 smaller tech talent markets (fewer than 50,000 workers) as ranked by CBRE:

  1. Waterloo
  2. Calgary
  3. Pittsburgh
  4. Columbus
  5. Orlando
  6. Quebec City
  7. Indianapolis
  8. Edmonton
  9. Sacramento
  10. Nashville

Our manufacturing talent base is also very strong, accounting for approximately 18% of our overall workforce. Waterloo is also near the geographic centre of both Canada’s largest manufacturing corridor and the Canadian automotive corridor. Exceptional and experienced manufacturing talent is always within reach in Waterloo.

The risks associated with talent and workforce aren’t easy to overcome and, as we’ve seen with COVID-19, these risks are also constantly changing. The best way to minimize talent and workforce risk is to locate in a community with access to substantial talent pipeline and experienced workforce resources.

Want to learn more right now?

We offer in-depth Waterloo Region Risk Profiles for manufacturing and tech.