The latest government statistics on the numbers of people working in research and development reveals consistent growth. Richard Hoy, President of Catax Canada, looks at what is driving this trend and how Canada compares to its G20 partners.
Canada’s research and development (R&D) expenditures have been rising consistently in recent years, with the number of personnel employed in R&D roles following suit.
The latest figures from the CRA are in and they show that the total number of people engaged in R&D in Canada have risen 2.4% annually to 263,910.
On the face of it, this isn’t a great performance. Canada ranks 11th in the G20 in terms of the raw numbers of full-time equivalents employed in R&D roles.
But that all changes when you take population into account — the fairest way to make a comparison.
Through this lens, Canada’s ranking suddenly leaps to third, placing it behind only South Korea and Japan.
The latest data shows that the business enterprise sector continues to lead the way — accounting for nearly two thirds (64%) of R&D roles — and that the number of R&D personnel rose in all occupational categories, except for technicians.
Higher education was the second largest employer of R&D personnel, coming hot on the heels of another recent CRA bulletin that showed the sector had posted its tenth consecutive year of growth in R&D spending.
It is important to remember, though, that the latest data shows the amount of people employed in R&D in 2019, meaning that the effects of the pandemic and its impact on R&D personnel are still unknown. It will be interesting to discover next year just how dramatically R&D roles were impacted.