Bringing Canada’s Software Developers Into Focus with Stack Overflow

By Creig Lamb and David Rubinger
December 5, 2017

By Creig Lamb and David Rubinger
November 28, 2017

Software developers are an indispensable part of Canada’s increasingly digital economy. But our knowledge and understanding of the developer community is limited; to date, we have relied on traditional market analysis, which does not capture the full scope of this evolving profession. How many developers are out there? What kind of education do they have, and how much do they earn? Which languages do they use? How easy it is for them to find a job in Canada?

To further our understanding of the future of work, we have partnered with Stack Overflow, the largest and most trusted online knowledge community for developers, to zoom in on this critical component of Canada’s tech talent pool.

Our report, Stacking Up: A Snapshot of Canada’s Developer Talent, offers detailed insights to bring Canada’s developers into focus. With this clearer understanding of our existing talent, we can keep skilled developers in Canada, better attract global tech companies, and continue to open the tech playing field to everyone.

Why Developers?

The reason for our focus on developers is simple: as firms across the economy embrace software solutions, developers are not only in demand, but are driving change in industries and fields that reach far beyond what we think of as the traditional tech sector. From startups to large organizations, in industries ranging from finance to healthcare, they can be found all across Canada’s public and private sectors.

Gaining a clearer picture of Canada’s developers is also critical in understanding the importance of digital skills across the economy. While everyone need not become a developer, their prevalence does signal the importance of digital technologies in our modern economy.

Developers are the backbone of a growing tech economy. We’re pleased to partner with the Brookfield Institute to shed light onto an important segment of the tech sector and to help employers as they compete for top developer talent.
Michael Dillon, Country Lead, Stack Overflow

“As the online resource where developers go to learn, share their knowledge and find jobs, we’re seeing tremendous growth in companies trying to attract developers, especially across North America,” said Michael Dillon, Country Lead, Stack Overflow. “Developers are the backbone of a growing tech economy. We’re pleased to partner with the Brookfield Institute to shed light onto an important segment of the tech sector and to help employers as they compete for top developer talent.”

A Clearer Picture

In terms of the size of our developer talent pool, Canada has the fifth-highest number of developers, with Toronto ranking as the 13th highest city internationally.

More than half of developers who responded to Stack Overflow’s 2017 Annual Developer Survey work outside software or web services, and more than two-thirds classified themselves as full-stack developers—that is, able to work on both the user-facing side of a product, as well as write the code to build it. Developers are highly educated and command a much higher salary than the rest of the Canadian labour market. A median of C$70,000 was reported in the 2017 survey, compared to C$45,280 in 2016 for the Canadian labour market as a whole. And, these developers are learning their skills from a mix of both formal and informal education—95 percent have at least some college or university education, while 60 percent also reported that they were at least partially self-taught.

In analyzing who makes up Canada’s current pool of developers, our report has also shed light on what is missing from this picture. Less than 10 percent of Canadian developers are female, and 83 percent identified as white or of European descent. As the need for software developers increases across all industries, it is vital that we have a full understanding of our current talent pool. We have put together this report and Developer Talent Map to give decision makers within the tech industry and throughout Canada a clearer picture of our growing tech talent pool.


For media enquiries, please contact Coralie D’Souza, Director of Communications, Events + Community Relations at the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship.

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