Why Vancouver is the Place to Be for Data Professionals

By BrainStation March 21, 2019
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A recent report from IBM determined that annual demand for Data Scientists, Data Developers, and Data Engineers would reach nearly 700,000 openings by 2020, with the number of total jobs rising 39 percent to 2.72 million total positions. Those numbers are backed up by an Indeed report showing that data science postings have rocketed 256 percent since December 2013, and they increased a full 31 percent year-over-year in December 2018.

In Canada, the ICTC report forecast that the big data market would exceed 43,000 jobs by 2020, an increase of 33 percent. What’s more, the Information and Communications Technology Council expects Canada’s data analytics market to generate roughly $1.8 billion in annual revenue.

There are reasons to believe that this will be lead by B.C – and more specifically its largest city. Here are some reasons why Vancouver might be the place to be for data professionals in Canada.

Salaries for Data Professionals in Canada are Highest in Vancouver

The rise of big data has increased demand for these skills across Canada, and salaries have kept pace with the demand. In fact, Indeed cites the average salary for Data Scientists around $104,000 in Canada as a whole.

Interestingly, salaries for data-related roles are highest in Vancouver. Data Analysts in Vancouver make 29 percent above the national average, while Senior Data Scientists are found to average $143,437 per year, 23 percent above the Canadian average.

The higher cost of housing in Vancouver may play a role in these figures, but there are two other factors that are likely also influencing average salaries:

Vancouver’s Tech Industry Keeps Growing

In recent years, B.C.’s biggest city has emerged as one of the world’s top expansion destinations for tech industry giants.

Amazon recently announced it was looking to bring 3,000 jobs to Vancouver by 2022; Facebook is preparing to open a downtown office on Burrard Street; and Samsung is planning a 20,000-square-foot office in the False Creek Flats (in the same sprawling building that will house gaming studio BlackBird Interactive). Meanwhile, the recently announced Digital Technology Supercluster, with more than 350 member organizations, is expected to create 50,000 new jobs and pump $15 billion in GDP into B.C.’s economy over the next decade.

The data side of the tech industry is not being overlooked in this exciting growth phase for the province and city. Already, 19 percent of Canadian big data jobs are in B.C. (according to another ICTC study), despite the province claiming just 13 percent of the Canadian population.

This is not going unnoticed, and some large companies have started to look at Vancouver as a potential hub for data.

Boeing, for example, opened its Boeing Vancouver Labs in September 2016, pledging to offer 200 new “high-income” jobs in data to help the company apply “data analytics, rapid product development, and agile software approaches to a variety” of tough problems faced by the aviation industry.

The City is Facing a Digital (and Data) Skills Shortage

The 2016 TechTalentBC Report forecasted demand for 47,000 tech workers by 2021 while predicting that the available supply would total only 16,500. That’s a gap of more than 30,000 positions.

Already, B.C.-based companies are facing a challenge finding qualified candidates in tech. According to a March 2018 report from Indeed.com, 33 percent of tech jobs in Vancouver are “hard to fill,” meaning they stay open for longer than 60 days.

Meeting the expected need for data professionals in Vancouver will likely require upskilling the local workforce, especially as data science roles are generally “hard to fill,” given that the skillset is still relatively rare.

Perhaps that’s why BrainStation’s 2019 Digital Skills Survey found that continuing education was an integral part of most data professionals’ lives. The survey found that 72 percent of data professionals had participated in online courses, 68 percent in workshops, seminars or conferences, and 63 percent in in-person courses.

That statistic correlates to the large and growing number of people looking to build a career in data from the ground up.

Indeed crunched the numbers and recently found that among Vancouver users, three of the top six most-searched-for jobs centered on data, including Data Warehouse Engineer and Data Scientist.

That was reinforced by BrainStation’s Digital Skills Survey, which found that many data professionals, in Vancouver and beyond, have switched careers to take advantage of the demand for data skills. In fact, 79 percent of respondents did not begin their career in data, and 65 percent have been working for five years or less.

 

Want to become a data science expert? Find out more about BrainStation’s Data Science Certificate Courses and Diploma Program