Waterloo Region punches well above its weight when it comes to attracting programming talent, according to a new report.
The Brookfield Institute report looks at where developers work across Canada and around the world, based chiefly on data from the developer community website Stack Overflow.
“We found that Kitchener and Waterloo had one of the highest concentrations of developers of any Canadian city,” Brookfield’s David Rubinger said in an interview.
While the area ranked seventh based on its number of developers, it moved into fourth when taking into account the size disparity between regions – behind only Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
The report also found that the region has what Rubinger calls an “exceptionally high concentration” of embedded developers – more than double the national average.
The region also has a disproportionately high number of back-end web developers, data scientists and machine learning specialists.
Rubinger says it’s “highly likely” that the prevalence of local specialized tech talent is due to the dominance of BlackBerry. When the company fell on hard times, he says, its developers moved on to other local tech companies or started their own.
Tony LaMantia, the president of the Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation, agrees, saying the same scenario plays out at the developer and executive levels.
“You’ve got a talent pool that has got skills, and you’ve got companies that actually need those skills,” he says.
“It helps to solidify our brand as a talent magnet globally.”
According to the report, the median salary of a Canadian developer is approximately $70,000 per year.
With reporting by Natalie van Rooy