Dream destinations for tech talent

10 mins

A recent trip to our American offices got me thinking about the global tech market and how t...

A recent trip to our American offices got me thinking about the global tech market and how the ‘war for talent’ works across continents.

Firstly, it’s not just the countries and locations that you’d most expect that are finding new ways to attract the best professionals to help them stay at the forefront of the technology revolution.

The main industry players are more likely to invest their billions establishing new tech hubs in places that offer a business environment that is entrepreneur friendly with affordable operating costs. And there’s the question of competitive salaries and an appealing work-life balance for professionals.   

Who is leading the global war for tech talent?

Let’s start with powerhouse of North America, where there are some six million highly skilled tech workers. According to the CBRE Group’s 2018 annual ranking of tech talent markets, you won’t be shocked to learn that the top two tech talent markets in the region are the San Francisco Bay Area (home of Silicon Valley) and Seattle (global headquarters of Microsoft and Amazon). Washington D.C. completed the top three, scoring highly on the number of tech graduates and tech employment concentration (8% of region’s total employment is in the tech sector). New York came in fifth with Denver breaking into the top 10 for the first time with tech workers enjoying an average salary of $100,000 in the Colorado state capital.

But the highest climber and the city making the biggest splash is Toronto, jumping from seven to four in the list. Canada’s largest city has created the most tech jobs in the region over the past five years (82,100). It is fast gaining a reputation for innovation, boosted by its diverse pool of local talent. As part of its ‘Global Skills Strategy’, the ‘Start-up Visa Program’ allows foreign entrepreneurs to become permanent residents if they relocate to Ontario’s capital.

Across the Pond, diversity has helped London cement its reputation as one the foremost global tech centres of excellence. Amazon, Google and Facebook all announced plans in 2017 to increase their operations in the English capital, creating thousands of jobs in the process. But having ‘unrestricted access to the best tech talent from Europe and the rest of the world’ may not be quite so simple, Mayor Khan, given the uncertain future post-Brexit.    

Elsewhere in Europe, the Portuguese government has initiated a passport-for-investment scheme that offers residency and eventually citizenship to anyone who invests €1m, buys property worth €500,000 or creates 10 jobs in the local economy. It’s an obvious route in too for highly skilled Brazilian entrepreneurs and programmers, who already speak the language. Companies such as Google, Zalando and Volkswagen are all planning to set up tech development centres in Lisbon.

The message has also been received loud and clear on the other side of the world. Australian Minister for Citizenship and Cultural Affairs, Alan Tudge, recently announced reforms of the country’s visa system and skilled migration programme to safeguard the country’s competitiveness in the tech stakes. Under the ‘Global Talent Scheme’, and for salaries over $145,000, Australian companies will be able to hire foreign workers (if they cannot find a suitable Australian for the job) – the rationale being that if they’re prepared to pay that amount, the individual in question must be an asset to the national economy.

A shortage of skilled engineers and developers has also prompted Israel to act and ensure that it has the talent to enable its high-tech industry to flourish. Part of ‘Project Massa’ (or ‘journey’ in Hebrew), the government in association with the Jewish Agency has launched a programme to recruit hundreds of young Jewish engineers who will be trained by and work for local companies for a period of at least 10 months. 

These are just some examples of the countries and cities around the world that are taking steps to grow their technology sectors, making sure that they’re not missing out on top tech talent. Because they know that being left behind simply isn’t an option in today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape.