Thirty-four Calgary tech companies took part in a virtual hiring fair Tuesday, an indication that the city’s technology and innovation sector continues to grow in spite of COVID-19 and a challenging local economy.
There were more than 300 jobs available through the event, which was organized by Calgary Economic Development and Tech West Collective, a group of local technology companies that aims to raise awareness of the city’s burgeoning tech scene. Among the companies hiring were larger organizations like Benevity and Shareworks by Morgan Stanley (formerly Solium) as well as smaller startups like Virtual Gurus and ZeroKey.
The companies were seeking to fill a wide range of roles, from tech-specific positions like data scientist and software developer to sales and marketing positions that could suit job-seekers transferring from other industries.
“It’s across the board, it’s all kinds of roles. All these companies have a numerous amount of positions open,” said Brad Parry, vice-president of marketing and communications for Calgary Economic Development. “The response has been overwhelming. We had over 1,200 registrants for the event itself.”
Calgary is currently home to 435 technology companies, three-quarters of which are startups. According to Calgary Economic Development, there are more than 2,000 open tech jobs in the city right now, and recruiting and hiring talent remains one of the sector’s highest priorities.
“We have 20 to 30 open positions today, but we’re planning to hire 150 by the end of the year. And we’re planning to hire an additional 200 to 300 next year,” said Hanif Joshaghani, co-founder and CEO of Calgary-based Symend, a software company whose platform engages with “at-risk” or delinquent customers on behalf of large corporations.
Joshaghani, who said his company has just signed a lease for 75,000 square feet of commercial real estate in downtown Calgary, added that Symend had only 14 employees a year and a half ago.
“We’re moving really, really fast,” he said. “Hiring for us is an evergreen process at this point.”
Both Calgary Economic Development and the provincial government have identified technology as a key sector that could help the local economy emerge from the COVID-19 crisis and the oil price crash.
Lucas Scheer, managing director of AltaML — an applied artificial intelligence and machine learning product company that was founded in Edmonton and now has a secondary office in downtown Calgary — said his company is planning to expand significantly in Calgary over the course of next year.
“We have 15 employees here now and we will definitely be at least 60 by April 1. It’s realistic that we’ll be between 60 and 90 come the spring,” Scheer said. “We have a solid demand for machine learning and AI developers, software developers, business analysts, project managers … really across the board.”
AltaML is also planning to create up to 240 data science internships over the next three years, a project that will be supported by a grant of up to $3.5 million from the City of Calgary’s Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund.
Tuesday’s hiring fair was the second major recruitment event hosted by Tech West Collective. The organization’s first hiring fair was held last November at the Sheraton Eau Claire and attracted more than 1,000 people.