Americans showing interest but not surging into local tech jobs
Ryan Flanagan, CTV Kitchener
Published Wednesday, October 4, 2017 5:06PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 4, 2017 6:39PM EDT
Is there any reason to think the political climate in the United States isn’t the reason more Americans are getting curious about job opportunities in Canada?
According to an economist who’s studied the issue at length, there is not.
Putting together a report on the issue on behalf of his employer, the job search website Indeed, Daniel Culbertson found that Americans in general are more likely to click on postings for Canadian jobs than they were a year ago.
With tech-related jobs, the phenomenon is even more pronounced. Between December 2016 and May 2017, 30 per cent of Americans’ clicks on tech-related job postings were for Canadian positions. One year earlier, that figure stood at 23 per cent.
Culbertson says “the current state of politics in the United States” is behind the increase.
“We know that the current situation has at least pushed the thought of a move to Canada into some peoples’ minds,” he says.
Adding fuel to his argument is that Indeed tracked two significant spikes in Americans’ interest in Canadian jobs.
One spike occurred on the night of the election – the same night Canada’s immigration website crashed due to high traffic volumes. The other occurred shortly after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, as he rolled out a new series of immigration controls and signalled that further restrictions could be in the works.
Breaking down the data further, Culbertson sees that Americans seem most interested in jobs based in Ottawa – the home of Nortel in the past and Shopify in the present – with Toronto and Waterloo Region following closely behind.
“That whole corridor is known as a cluster of tech innovation,” he says.
While Americans might be looking at jobs in Waterloo Region, there’s not a lot of evidence that they’re actually packing up and moving here.
Andrea Gilbrook, Communitech’s director of talent programs, says she’s heard about interest in local positions anecdotally. That interest, she says, has only translated into “a few new people” moving from the U.S.
“We haven’t seen a massive spike in applicants, but we have definitely seen a renewed interest in people who are interested in hearing more,” she says.
When people from out of the country are moving in, Gilbrook says, it’s typically to fill positions where there don’t seem to be enough qualified and interested Canadians. Some of those in-demand roles include software developers, salespeople with experience in tech, and digital marketers.
Gilbrook says companies in the midst of scaling up – like those doing most of the hiring in Waterloo Region – are typically looking for people who have experience in similar situations, which can be difficult to find.
Indeed has tracked similar phenomena for Brexit and other world events, but interest usually dies back down quickly. Culbertson says he’s not so sure that will be the case this time.
“I think this is going to stay on peoples’ minds and be a factor for the next couple years,” he says.
“This is really an opportunity for Canada to distinguish itself as not just an immigration-friendly country, but as an alternative to the United States.”
According to Indeed’s data, Canadian job titles most of interest to American searchers include salesforce developer, ETL developer, senior database administrator and senior software engineer.
With reporting by Brandon Rowe