BlackBerry Layoffs Reshape Waterloo Tech Hub

Kachina Shaw

News of another 250 job cuts by BlackBerry in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, hit today. While the 4,500 total job losses planned by the company will affect multiple cities in Canada and the U.S. to one degree or another, observers are debating whether Waterloo will be able to keep its standing as a tech hub.

The Financial Post’s coverage of a recent Waterloo job fair found that BlackBerry employees who had been laid off in 2012 were in attendance, alongside those more recently let go. Of around 700 job seekers, about half had once worked for BlackBerry.

About 50 companies at the fair had openings for approximately half the number of attendees this particular day. Communitech, a local organization coordinating job fairs and assisting job seekers, especially from BlackBerry, sees several IT job trends in the area:

  • Hiring of Waterloo locals by companies like Apple for U.S. office locations
  • Expansion of Waterloo offices by large U.S. tech companies like Google and Motorola
  • More foreign companies taking advantage of Canadian tax breaks and possibly less expensive labor

Local job seekers who want to stay in the area are hopeful that the pool of highly skilled, unemployed workers will attract enough outside companies that they will not be forced to relocate and the town will be able to maintain its economic health – BlackBerry restructuring notwithstanding.

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