06/10/2016 12:55 EDT | Updated 06/11/2017 05:12 EDT

General Motors Canada's Hiring Spree Is About Self-Driving Cars

GM plans to create 700 new engineering jobs in Canada.

OSHAWA, Ont. — General Motors has announced plans to expand research into self-driving vehicles and open a new software centre in Markham, Ont., later this year.

Under the initiative, the automaker would create more than 700 new engineering jobs over the next few years.

“We selected Canada for this expansion because of its clear capacity for innovation, proven talent and strong ecosystem of great universities, startups and innovative suppliers," GM Executive Vice-President Mark Reuss said in a statement.

"With this expansion, GM Canada will play an important role in our evolution toward vehicles that are connected, autonomous, shared and electric.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne pose as they plug in a 2017 Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle before making an announcement at the General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ont., on Friday, June 10, 2016. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

The company was joined by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Kathleen Wynne at its headquarters in Oshawa, Ont.

GM's announcement marks a major shift towards autonomous vehicle development, a sector some say is poised to boom over the next several years.

The company also says it will spend $10 million to upgrade its cold-weather testing facility in Kapuskasing, Ont.

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