Despite High Unemployment In Canada Due To COVID-19, Tech Companies Still Have Trouble Hiring. Here’s Why.

June 2, 2020

There are more than 6 million highly skilled workers in the U.S. and Canada that comprise the tech industry. In Canada, this sector has been booming for years. Indeed, Toronto saw the biggest growth in technology jobs of any North American city over the past five years. Toronto’s tech job growth outpaced San Francisco, New York, and Seattle.

At the end of 2018, Canada saw more than 1.66 million employed in its technology sector. But here’s the rub – even the relatively high unemployment rate we’re experiencing right now, is not enough to fill the hiring gaps many Canadian tech companies have. This was hard to believe, so I wanted to dig into it some more. 

I reached out to a Canadian tech recruiter to find out more, and I ended up learning three interesting things. The first was that there are Canadian tech employers that are still hiring, but there are still vacancies. Some industries are hiring more than others – such as telecommunication, biotech and others – but the fact still stands that even amidst such high numbers of folks looking for work, there are job vacancies. The second thing I learned was that many of these job openings were for experienced or high-level tech professionals at relatively high salaries.

It was the third thing, however, that was most surprising, and this was the fact that these employers are actually having trouble filling the vacant roles!

I was shocked by this at first, but after the recruiter explained it to me, it made a lot of sense. Many of the unemployed engineers have turned out to be relatively junior, so the pool of applicants can’t quite meet the requirements of currently open jobs. And at the same time, tech workers that are senior enough tended to stay employed and are very reluctant to give up their secure jobs in this rocky and uncertain climate.

And if they were interested in finding a new job, big U.S. tech firms are following global tech workers north of the border, and offering such high salaries that at times Canadian employers have had trouble matching them.

So, many Canadian employers are still trying to find skilled individuals to fill open roles. What are some solutions?

Potential Solutions

One solution is for Canadian employers to take on more junior employees perhaps at a lower salary than they were expecting to hire for, and use the difference to allow these new employees to take classes, receive certifications, or upskill at work via smaller projects. 

Canadian companies can also look to the U.S. for high-skilled workers who have recently lost work or are nervous about losing their jobs and may want to move to Canada. Through Canada’s Global Skills Strategy program — Canada’s version of the American H-1B visa — employers may be able to expedite visa applications for high-skilled workers coming from the US, even now as borders otherwise stay closed. Additionally, through Canada’s Global Talent Stream (GTS) employers can hire highly-skilled foreign talent fast.

As we now start to work through the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to have at least a few hiring options. Reach out to us to see if we can help you find talented tech workers in Canada.

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And if you’re a US tech worker and you’re interested in exploring career and immigration opportunities in Canada, visit our website and see if you qualify with our free assessment.