MaRS releases Talent Fuels Tech: Connecting the GTA’s tech sector with top talent

The Talent Fuels Tech report explores the challenges faced by workers and employers in Toronto’s tech ecosystem and how to boost the pool of globally competitive talent.

TORONTO, January 24, 2018 – Today, MaRS released Talent Fuels Tech, a report that explores the challenges faced by workers and employers in the Toronto region’s technology ecosystem and recommends steps to increase and enhance the pool of globally competitive talent.

“Talent fuels the innovation economy and it is one of the major choke points to success and scale in our industry,” says Yung Wu, CEO of MaRS. “At the same time, participation and leadership in the tech and innovation ecosystem are not representative of our diverse population. If we’re to win globally, it’s imperative that we work to engage all segments of our talent pool. This report identifies the challenges and suggests how together we can address the sector’s growing talent gap and help our ecosystem succeed.”

“Our companies create between 2,000 to 5,000 jobs a year, yet some of those jobs take five to six months to fill and others go unfilled,” says Lekan Olawoye, one of the co-authors of the report and lead executive at MaRS Studio Y. “By simply opening up our talent pool to those who are currently on the periphery, we will dramatically impact the ecosystem. We need to get beyond the closed loop and get a representative sample of the Greater Toronto Area’s diverse high-performing talent at our companies’ doorsteps.”

The report is based on insights gathered from six separate focus groups that asked employers about their talent needs and the challenges they face around recruitment and hiring. Job seeker data was also collected through an online survey of professionals between the ages of 23 and 55. Among the representative sample of 589 respondents, 316 were technical professionals and 273 were marketing and sales professionals in the GTA.

Key findings include:

  • More than half (53%) of currently employed tech workers are actively interested in other employment opportunities beyond their current jobs.
  • There are significant mismatches between where job seekers are looking for work and where companies are sourcing employees.
  • There is a general lack of knowledge about startups among job seekers, and limited employer-brand recognition deters them from considering startup employment opportunities.
  • Companies feel that cultural fit in the workplace is critical, sometimes identifying it as more important than technical skills when determining which applicant to hire.
  • Visible minority workers were more likely to be job seekers (63% of the job seeker survey respondents were visible minorities).
  • Employers are recruiting with an emphasis on technical skills, but are hiring talent based on the mindsets for growth required to thrive in their organizations and in the future of work.

Connecting the GTA’s tech sector with top talent
Ecosystem stakeholders must work together to enhance the ability of tech-sector employers to connect with job seekers in Toronto. Specifically, the report recommends that MaRS, governments, post-secondary education institutions and industry must focus their efforts to:

  • increase the pool of skilled talent seeking opportunities in high-growth technology companies by hiring, retaining and promoting qualified diverse candidates;
  • attract top talent from other sectors into the tech sector;
  • ensure that more skilled professionals are up-skilled with the mindsets required for success in these environments; and
  • steward a bold, global narrative for Toronto as a lucrative destination for top talent.

“We’re really excited about this process and working with our ecosystem partners—big companies, small firms, post-secondary institutions—to look at what we mean by diversity and inclusion and to explore how we support our ecosystem to not just bring in, but retain diverse talent,” says Olawoye. “We now have the solutions, we just need to be intentional about connecting the supply of talent to the demand.”

To access the full report, go to To learn more about how MaRS is helping job seekers connect with high-growth tech ventures, visit

About MaRS Discovery District

MaRS Discovery District (@MaRSDD) in Toronto is one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs. Our purpose is to help innovators change the world. MaRS supports promising ventures tackling key challenges in the health, cleantech, finance and commerce, and work and learning sectors as they start, grow and scale. In addition, the MaRS community fosters cross-disciplinary collaboration to drive breakthrough discoveries and new solutions to be adopted in Canada and beyond, growing our economy and delivering societal impact at scale. 

Media contact

Lara Torvi

MaRS Discovery District