Dear Amazon: Here are 4 things we think you should know about Toronto’s tech talent

As a proud Canadian company with a downtown Toronto office, we were thrilled to learn that Toronto has been selected as one of the final 20 sites under consideration for Amazon’s second headquarters. In reviewing the list of the 19 other contenders, we know our country’s biggest city is up against some incredibly tough competition. As the Amazon team evaluates its HQ2 options, there a few things to consider that we think set Toronto apart when it comes to accessing some of the world’s best technical talent.

The world’s leading AI experts now call Toronto home

We know that Amazon is already using machine learning to do things like improve search results, product recommendations, and inventory management, so you’re well aware of the value that experts in AI can bring to your bottom line. Much like neighbours knocking on each other’s doors to borrow some milk, there are huge advantages associated with giving your team access to some of the world’s most cutting-edge AI work right in their home city. The University of Toronto’s Creative Destruction Lab is home to 50 AI companies, representing one of the greatest concentrations of AI companies in any program in the world. Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District is also home to the Vector Institute, an independent research facility for AI that is focused on attracting the globe’s best deep learning and machine learning talent. You can learn more about why AI is red hot in Canada right now here.

Toronto provides access to TWO of Canada’s top tech markets from one location

While Toronto boasts Canada’s largest technical workforce, Amazon would also be able to tap into another incredible tech talent pool that’s located just a short commute from the city. Waterloo is just 113 km (70 miles) outside of Toronto, and in the last five years its tech talent market has grown by almost two-thirds, making it one of the fastest growing markets in the country. The Ontario government is moving ahead with preliminary work to build a new high-speed rail system that would make the commute between Toronto and Waterloo just an easy, breezy 48-minute ride. Current project timelines have that rail line up and running as early as 2025.

A Canadian location makes it easier to take a more global approach to talent acquisition

While there is a diverse range of tech talent in Toronto and its surrounding regions, there may be times when Amazon has a specific talent need that requires a global search. As the only remaining contender located north of the border, Toronto stands apart from a tech talent perspective because companies located here can access Canada’s fast-track visa program. In 2017, Canada’s federal government introduced changes to its immigration policy that make it easier for companies to bring in technical talent from other countries. Companies that need to bring high-skilled workers to Canada on a temporary basis now benefit from two-week processing of applications for work permits and, when necessary, temporary resident visas. Open work permits for spouses and study permits for dependents can also be processed in as little as two weeks.

Ontario’s world-renowned co-op programs help companies secure top tech talent before graduation

Toronto companies benefit from strong and strategic co-operative education programs at Ontario’s colleges and universities. By alternating school terms with related work placements, these programs create a unique blend of higher and hands-on learning that builds an important bridge between companies and students. According to Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada, in the fields of computer science and data processing alone there are 14 Ontario colleges and universities that offer co-op programs, including the University of Waterloo, Wilfred Laurier University, and the University of Toronto.

One more thing to consider

If the prospect of staffing Amazon HQ2 in a non-U.S. city seems complex, we’d like to assure you that it doesn’t have to be. By working with the Ian Martin Group, the Amazon team would have the support of North America’s most progressive recruitment and project-staffing firm on their side. Ian Martin has been staffing projects across Canada and the United States for over five decades and our expert team of project managers and recruiters is at the ready to help Amazon source the globe’s best technical talent. As a Certified B Corporation (‘B’ stands for ‘Benefit’), we meet the world’s highest standards for positive impact on our employees, customers, community, and the environment and we would apply those standards to help ensure Amazon’s smooth transition into the Canadian business landscape.

Selecting Toronto as the location won’t just be a win for our city. It will be a huge win for Amazon too! We look forward to hearing the results!

Mike Leacy

Mike Leacy

Michael Leacy is Vice President of IT and Engineering Staffing Services at Ian Martin.He is also President and Board member of the National Association of Canadian Consulting Businesses (NACCB).His experience is enabling organizations to deliver technical/functional expertise for IT and engineering projects. He lives near the lake and can lay out with the best of them in centre field to make the catch.
Mike Leacy