When we wrote about Why 2020 is Still a Great Time to Join Toronto's Tech Industry back in February, the world was a very different place. A lot has changed since then. But, one thing that has stayed the same is people's desire to change their lives. It turns out that even a pandemic can't slow people down when it comes to changing careers and following their dreams. But, dreaming aside, it's also important to be realistic. As we continue to adjust to the impacts of COVID-19 today, many people are wondering:
Is Canadian Tech still worth breaking into? The short answer is yes!
While every sector has been impacted by the pandemic, including tech, reports remain hopeful that as Canada's economy begins its road to recovery, it will look to the tech industry for support - specifically tech startups.
“The pandemic has accelerated the pace of transformation in the workplace,” a white paper commissioned by the Innovation Economy Council (IEC) says. The IEC was founded by MaRS, OCE, Communitech, DMZ, Invest Ottawa, and CCRM, and is committed to driving Canada's industrial innovation policy.
As this new world of work evolves and shapes the post-pandemic economy, technology will become even more important than it is today.
The IEC report acknowledges the crucial role that tech companies, especially successful Canadian software companies such as Shopify, OpenText, and Freshbooks, play in providing essential tools, products, and services “that drive the success of most front-line businesses.”
In sectors such as e-commerce, videoconferencing software, education technology, and telemedicine, COVID-19 has actually accelerated advancement and innovation. Here are only some of the many amazing ways that Canadian startups have been tackling the COVID-19 crisis.
“All things digital are becoming a day-to-day necessity, not a luxury,” says Sam Duboc, chairman and chief executive of MindBeacon Group, which provides digital therapy.
While tech has had its own fallouts as a result of the pandemic, an article from the CBC reports that the impact has not been as significant as other sectors:
The resilience of Canada's technology sector is an encouraging sign as Canada's economy tries to reorient itself for the post-pandemic reality.
The adaptability, resilience, and innovation of Canada's tech industry, particularly startups, is mentioned in numerous reports.
“Startups and tech companies are nimble, so they’re often better positioned to pivot to support their clients and help the economy become more resilient, which is critical as global supply chains cope with massive disruption,” the IEC analysis says.
Economist Sal Guatieri writes in a BMO Economics report titled "Digital Immunity" that while many industries will continue to struggle post-pandemic, “the high-tech sector appears set to thrive, partly immunizing the economy.” Guatieri also highlights the speed of the tech industry’s expansion over the past few years, as well as the high salaries of its workers:
Tech workers have an average salary 49% above the national norm ... This industry, which includes software programmers, has been one of the fastest growing in the past six years.
In fact, Toronto ranked #1 as the fastest growing hub for tech jobs in North America in CBRE's 2019 Scoring Tech Talent Report, which ranked 50 U.S. and Canadian tech talent markets. Other Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Montreal, and Ottawa also ranked highly in the top 20.
So why has the tech industry continued to thrive even when the rest of the economy has struggled in recent years?
“It thrives on innovation,” Guatieri says in his report. “Digital devices are not only much sought after by nearly everyone but often trigger ideas that lead to new goods and services. Innovation also attracts investors in search of big profits.”
The investment in tech goes beyond Canada, including the United States and the UK. The New York Times predicts that "big tech could emerge from the coronavirus crisis stronger than ever," and UK-based IT job board CWJobs recently reported that budgets for tech are expected to increase in response to COVID-19.
There is a sense of urgency and momentum to how rapidly Canada's tech industry is growing. Guatieri writes:
With Canada’s economy and workers crushed by COVID-19 and low energy prices, there has never been a better time for the high-tech sector to carry the torch.
"Though still relatively small, the sector is growing rapidly and can only benefit from an acceleration in online shopping and remote working, activities that rely on efficient, high-speed digital technology," he continues.
CBC reports that "online sales more than doubled in April and now make up almost 10 per cent of everything sold in Canada — the biggest proportion on record," and cites the recent rise of Shopify as Canada's most valuable company as a clear example of e-commerce's high demand.
As always, Juno is here to help as a leader in innovation and tech education. We're proud to have been invited as a community partner of ShopHere, a City of Toronto/Digital Main Street initiative supported by Shopify, Google, Mastercard, Microsoft, Facebook, eBay, and more. The program’s mission is to help Toronto’s small businesses and independent artists open free online stores to minimize the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the future may still be uncertain in many ways, we remain confident that you can succeed with digital skills that are high-demand, employable, and future-proof. Web developers especially will be sought after to help support and innovate these aforementioned companies and industries, and beyond.
If you've been dreaming of changing your career, your life, and the lives of others, it's never too late to make that a reality. It is clear that tech is needed more than ever, and at Juno, we're committed to continue educating, empowering, and connecting our community.
Thinking of breaking into tech?
We're the experts in helping people with non-technical backgrounds build rewarding careers as web developers. Check out Juno’s free guide to Kickstarting Your Tech Career!