Calgary well ahead of Toronto as place to be to start an IT career: Study

The word is out about Calgary and its expanding tech sector, not only domestically, but globally, results of a new study released this week by Edinburgh-based CodeClan reveal.

The company, which bills itself as an accredited digital skills academy as well as Scotland’s first digital bootcamp, set out to determine which cities around the globe are the best in which to pursue a career in technology.

“Due to the recent boom in tech start-ups around the world, more people than ever are looking for a career in tech and studying software development and data analysis,” the firm states on its Web site.

“With this in mind, we have gathered data on the top 100 cities listed in Mercer’s Quality of Living ranking, identifying some of the most important factors when it comes to pursuing a career in tech.

“Each factor has been weighted fairly to give an overall score and reveal the best city in the world for a career in tech.”

Of note is, after factoring in average salary and average rental costs, Calgary came out on top in Canada, placing an impressive 23rd globally, well ahead of Toronto, which placed 40th.

Montreal, meanwhile, placed 29th, Ottawa came in at the 33rd spot and Vancouver finished well behind Calgary in the 56th position.

In determining the rankings, which saw Bern, Zurich, and Atlanta place first, second and third respectively, the following criteria were used: average salary, average fixed broadband download speed, average rent per month, and the number of tech companies in each location.

A key indicator of why Calgary placed where it did revolves around average salary and rent. Whereas the average salary in Toronto totaled a shade under $85,000 – based on a currency conversion to Canadian dollars, as the study uses British sterling – the average monthly rent was almost $2,100.

In Calgary, the average salary was marginally less – $80,000, while the average monthly rent was just over $650 cheaper.

Another factor the city has in its favour is an impressive and growing tech ecosystem.

In an article that appeared last month in IT World Canada, Jeremy Shaki, chief executive officer of tech education firm Lighthouse Labs, said that “both Calgary, and Alberta as a whole, are in excellent fiscal shape at the moment. First, the province is set to lead Canada’s GDP growth for at least the next two years and a big part of that growth is expected to come from a wide swath of new and existing technology firms.”

Brad Parry, president and CEO of Calgary Economic Development, described what is currently going on in the city as a “four-year overnight success story. We’ve been working towards this for some time in terms of looking at the ecosystem and understanding what is happening. We’ve always said, Calgary doesn’t have a start-up problem, it has a scale-up problem.”

Parry and other civic officials, including Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek, spoke in June at Collision 2022 about the steps the city must take to both attract and retain IT talent.

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Paul Barker
Paul Barker
Paul Barker is the founder of PBC Communications, an independent writing firm that specializes in freelance journalism. His work has appeared in a number of technology magazines and online with the subject matter ranging from cybersecurity issues and the evolving world of edge computing to information management and artificial intelligence advances.

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