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What do tech employment and hiring look like globally?

eTeki is proud to be a Bronze Sponsor of the World HR Summit in Goa, India (and NPA Worldwide in Tampa, FL, USA) this week. The conference will have a heavy future of work focus, and is intended to be for talent acquisition leaders who want to understand the emergent Asian marketplace as well as individual contributors looking to gain more of an understanding of the global tech marketplace and the global tech recruiting ecosystem.

Global Tech Employment: Some numbers and trends
This obviously varies greatly globally and there’s an important caveat: everything, to some extent, is a “tech industry” these days. We have “smart toasters” now. Does that mean that everyone who works in the toaster production industry is a “tech employee” now? No. We tried to limit these data sets to conventional engineering, R&D, IT, and developer professions.

In the United States, the tech sector employs about 7 million people — which is 4% of the total U.S. workforce and 5% of the private sector workforce. That said, it contributes about $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy, which is roughly 8% of GDP.

The European Union varies more widely, but a broader sense can be found: In 2015, 33.9 million people were employed in the manufacturing sector in the EU 28, a figure which represented 15.4% of total employment. Of these, 2.4 million were employed in high-tech manufacturing, corresponding to 1.1% of total employment. About three times as many were employed in high-tech knowledge-intensive services, which accounted for 2.9% of total employment.

Specific Asia-Pacific data shows about 3.86M employees directly in the IT-BPM industry in India. India is an interesting case — it will be good to hear from TA leaders at the conference — because their IT sector laid off 56,000 people at the end of 2017, in large part because newer technologies have wiped out what used to be India’s tech core: maintaining servers and infrastructure. In other words, lower-cost options got replaced by AI needs, and that resulted in layoffs throughout India’s tech sector. Despite the layoffs, the IT sector in India is still worth billions of dollars — IT services spending within the country was $9.5B U.S. in 2017.

China is seeing 6.5% annual growth, of which 11-15% comes from human capital. There are more than 27,000 high technology companies in China alone, and while their tech companies are collectively worth only a third of what America’s are, populations including The Economist claim they’re catching up faster than expected — and could be the dominant tech employer in terms of both revenue generated and total number of employees within 15 years. Japan has been losing talent for years, and currently has 1.48 jobs for every applicant.

South America has seen a few of its urban hubs (such as Santiago) become global tech destinations, with Argentina getting tech investment up to 1.5% of GDP and employing about 115,000 in full-time equivalent “near-shorting” roles.

Hiring is on the uptick, although visa issues remain
Based on LinkedIn data at the end of 2017, 56% of talent acquisition executives from 35+ countries said their hiring volume is increasing, which speaks to an idea of an overall rise in hiring.

The key issue globally is visa clarity. With increased tensions in different areas of the world, simply moving top tech talent from Country A to Country B isn’t easy. It never was easy, per se, but it’s becoming more complicated.

Foreign tech workers interest in U.S. firms appears to be in decline, largely because of uncertainty around immigration policies of the current Presidential administration:
Foreign Tech Workers interested in US companies
Moreover, as noted in research by Hired:
Forty percent of our survey respondents have considered relocating to another location since the 2016 election. Of those individuals, nearly one third cite Canada as their top choice (32%), followed by Germany (12%), Asia (10%) and Australia (10%). Furthermore, it appears as though Brexit has had a negative impact on tech workers’ decision to relocate to the UK. While 6% of respondents listed the UK as their top choice if they were to relocate, another 43% of respondents said that Brexit had made the UK a less desirable place to live.

This undoubtedly changes the game on how recruiters approach their role, especially if relocation to U.S.-based roles is (a) legally-challenging and (b) increasingly less desirable.

Startups also muddy the picture. When you combine the rise of startups with uncertainty about visas, you have an interesting intersection where the recruiting function might need to work more with the legal and compliance side in order to win the war for global talent.

What increased global hiring also means
For recruiters — and this is sure to be a big theme of the conference in Goa — there is a whole different set of skill assessments that need to be done on candidates. These include:

  • Can they work virtually?
  • How well do they work with team members who aren’t physically sitting by them?
  • What is their language aptitude relative to the rest of the team?
  • What tech stack will they be using where they’re based and does it speak to your org’s tech stack?
  • Where have they worked before?
  • Were those roles virtual?
  • How long have they stayed in previous virtual roles?

While some of these are age-old recruiting questions, some are much more relevant to an era of increasing global hiring.

Finally, there’s a cost factor. Global hiring is more challenging. How are you going to mitigate the cost of a bad hire? Are you going to turn to more contract recruiting? Are you simply going to award less headcount over time? What’s the plan for the bottom line?

What have you observed in your area with regards to tech employment and hiring? Will you be at World HR Summit to discuss? If not, feel free to tweet @eteki with any stats, charts, graphs, or data you’ve seen about either the global picture or in your area.

Snigdha Masa

Snigdha Masa
Business Development Manager, is a self-driven passionate consultative sales professional with ideas, initiatives and activities aimed towards making businesses better.