The Great Resignation has intensified Canadian tech’s war for talent: report

Voluntary turnover at Canadian tech companies has doubled from previous years.

Photo: Unsplash

Canada’s tech talent shortage is not a new phenomenon, but over the last year, the competition for skilled workers has become hotter than ever. A new report from Vancouver-based TAP Network reveals how recent labour market trends have impacted salaries in the Canadian tech sector, and how local companies are upping the ante when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.

The 2022 Tech Talent Survey, released this week, tracks annual salary data from 216 Canadian technology companies, including salary and incentive data for more than 30,000 individual employees across 227 roles.

The survey found that Canadian tech sector salaries increased in the past year by 6.5 percent on average, a significant jump from the previous five-year average of 3.8 percent. What’s more, nearly 40 percent of the jobs surveyed saw average salary increases of 10 percent or more this year, a result TAP Network called “unprecedented.”

Stephanie Hollingshead, CEO of TAP Network, said the recent growth of Canada’s tech sector, as well as increased competition for talent from global firms has put “significant pressure on Canadian companies to compete on salaries.”

Among the roles with the highest salary increases were manufacturing engineers, hardware and electrical engineers, and entry-level 2D and 3D concept artists. Sales and marketing, human resources, and executive positions also saw their average salary increase this past year by more than 10 percent.

TAP Network’s report identified one factor that could be driving the growth of tech sector salaries; namely, “the Great Resignation.” According to the report, voluntary turnover almost doubled from previous years in Canadian tech, with organizations reporting nearly one-fifth of employees left their jobs voluntarily. Sectors that saw the most turnover included ecommerce, visual effects and animation, artificial intelligence, data science, machine learning, and robotics.

While the causes of this mass exodus are multifold, some experts have noted the COVID-19 pandemic gave workers a chance to reevaluate their career goals and work conditions. Of the employees resigning, few have actually left the labour force altogether. “The Great Resignation” has also been dubbed the “Great Reshuffle,” since many workers simply moved to companies offering better compensation or more flexible work arrangements.

TAP Network’s report noted these conditions have compelled Canadian tech companies to sweeten their offers to stay competitive. In addition to raising their salaries, 99 percent of Canadian tech companies now offer the option to work either partially or fully remote, 78 percent allow staff to live and work in a different province, and nearly 40 percent allow remote employees to work outside of Canada.

While last year’s explosion of Canadian tech drove the shift towards more competitive salaries, companies in this sector are in a much different climate today. Rising interest rates and inflation have created new economic headwinds, prompting many high-profile Canadian tech companies to ease up on hiring, and in some cases, downsize their existing teams.

Wealthsimple, for example, laid off 13 percent of its workforce in June, while Shopify laid off roughly 1,000 employees the following month. Vancouver-based firms like Article, Thinkific, and Unbounce have also trimmed down their teams in recent months. Hollingshead said companies are taking a more cautious approach to hiring in an effort to stay afloat, but noted the current economic environment also brings new opportunities for tech firms.

“While this shift should help smaller companies to retain employees and hire the additional talent they need to grow their businesses, upward pressure on tech sector salaries is expected to continue into 2023,” added Hollingshead. "Large-scale hiring, salary increases and even layoffs present real opportunities to diversify workforces, improve pay equity and retain marginalized and racialized employees.”

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