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Location, education factors in Hamilton’s contribution to Canada’s booming tech industry

A LinkedIn data study suggests Hamilton is one of North America's fastest growing city's attracting tech talent from around the world. Global News

A business development expert says Hamilton’s proximity to an innovation corridor in Southern Ontario is the reason why the city is one of the hot beds for tech talent in North America.

City of Hamilton consultant Karol Murillo says location has a lot to do with the municipality’s placing top 10 in the category along with hubs like Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, San Francisco and Seattle.

“About eight years ago, we were starting to see all this growth from Waterloo, Hamilton to Toronto. And for us, we’ve been a part of that growth,” said Murillo.

Read more: Toronto ranked the 3rd-largest tech hub in North America

A recent LinkedIn data study, taken from profile information connected to more than 800 members, suggested tech expansion projects from some of the world’s largest companies and curriculum offered by big universities was the catalyst for “leading the charge.”

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“In the last few weeks alone, Walmart Canada announced one of its two new global tech hubs would be located in Toronto as it looks to hire 5,000 tech workers this year,” Riva Gold, senior news editor for LinkedIn said in a study summary, “while Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp parent Meta shared plans for a Canadian engineering hub that will create about 2,500 jobs.”

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Murillo says Hamilton’s tech occupations have grown by 50 per cent over the last five years culminating in an estimated 18,000 tech workers making Hamilton their home.

“Right before the pandemic in 2019, one of our largest wins was landing an investor in a tech company called Q4 Inc.,” Murillo said.

“They came in, saw what was happening in Hamilton, and they landed over 20,000 square feet of space right in the heart of downtown Hamilton.”

The LinkedIn study also points to education along the southern corridor as key with the University of Toronto, Waterloo, Toronto Metropolitan University and Seneca College top 10 among tech graduates in Canada.

Read more: Tech group proposes visa for skilled workers to enter country without a job offer

At the forefront of the boom is the recent number of engineering students the University of Waterloo produces – almost double what Stanford and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) combined push out in a year.

Pre-pandemic, the school boasted more than 10,000 students enrolled in its engineering programs compared to Stanford’s estimated 5,000 and MIT’s 3,000, according to data from each school’s website.

Calgary leads the way in tech growth across the continent due to a revitalization initiative in the downtown core moving in more tech-related investments diversifying from its traditional base of oil and gas offerings.

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Click to play video: 'Multinational tech giant Infosys to bring 500 jobs to Calgary' Multinational tech giant Infosys to bring 500 jobs to Calgary
Multinational tech giant Infosys to bring 500 jobs to Calgary – Mar 3, 2021

A major part of that investment is attributed to a 2019 forecast from the city’s economic development division that estimated $18 billion was earmarked for creation or expansion of digital technologies over a three year period accommodating some 77,000 jobs.

Read more: ‘We just can’t keep pace’: Does Calgary have a shortage of tech talent?

Ballooning house prices appear to be a non-issue among tech workers as Canada’s west coast and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) continue to see talent flock to the metropolises.

Vancouver tops in that category with 2.1 per cent growth over the past 12 months.

The LinkedIn data revealed the most coveted specialists tech employers currently seek are those with a data engineering background. Back-end developer, software engineering manager, implementation specialist, and data scientist and director of engineering round out the top five.

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