This feature first appeared in the Summer 2023 issue of Certification Magazine. Click here to get your own print or digital copy.
NOTE: Wondering where in the world to look for work? Our first article addressing this topic can be found here.
Global economic uncertainty notwithstanding, IT professionals with relevant skills have more job opportunities and locations to explore than any other occupational group. Small, medium, and large tech companies, as well as companies outside the tech sector, are all looking for tech talent.
Among enterprises that have shown resilience through the downturn, there is a sense of cautious optimism. The focus now is on addressing customer/client needs, improving product functionality, lowering costs, and optimizing efficiency and profitability.
Job seekers have different priorities. Salary is not necessarily the only important factor. Learning opportunities, work-life balance, growth prospects, access to modern technology, and flexibility are what more and more experienced IT professionals are looking for.
The COVID pandemic changed the way people work. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, many people across the world experienced working from home for the first time. Quite a few have grown to like it and would rather not be full-time office workers. While some companies have resumed the pre-COVID work-from-office routine, others are experimenting with a hybrid work environment, and a few are still in the remote-work mode.
When considering relocating to another country, it’s important to identify one that fits your priorities. If remote or hybrid work are your preferred options, you need to take that into account. Companies in many countries offer these options.
In the April issue of Certification Magazine, I discussed six of the most popular IT workplace destination nations for tech professionals willing to expand their horizons. Here are six countries that didn't make that list but are worth considering.
France has a well-established tech ecosystem. Post-pandemic, the French tech industry has proved relatively resilient. As in other countries, France’s tech companies are adjusting to changing economic conditions and focusing on optimizing operations to achieve greater efficiency, while aligning with consumer and client needs.
According to Frank Sebag, partner at EY France (as reported by Euronews Next), SaaS, deep tech, Fintech, and blockchain are sectors that are expected to grow soon. In the startup segment, the biotech, healthtech, education, and cybersecurity sub-sectors are looking promising. In 2022, France had 25 unicorns, in areas including robotics and Fintech.
Most French startups employ foreign nationals. Programmers and developers are in demand. France attracts less foreign tech talent than some other European countries primarily because of the language barrier and bureaucratic complexities. That appears to be changing due to a need for international tech talent. Some startups are using the French tech visa to make it easy for foreign tech workers to join them.
Most tech companies in France prefer to hire foreign workers who have at least a working knowledge of French. Being reasonably good with the language will make life easier for you.
Pros — Good public healthcare system; diverse landscape and climate; rich culture; distinct lifestyle
Cons — High cost of living in Paris and other cities; complex bureaucratic procedures; housing tax (amount depends on the area of residence)
Sweden is Scandinavia’s largest economy. In the 1990s, the Swedish government implemented market reforms, including the Home PC Reform, which enabled roughly a million Swedes to own their first computer. The government also invested in providing internet access to most citizens. This created opportunities for tech entrepreneurs. Today, Sweden has a large number of tech companies.
Sweden has a robust startup ecosystem. Audio-streaming platform Spotify and buy-now-pay-later online financing service Klarna are based in Stockholm. Prominent sectors within the startup segment include impact, gaming, and musitech. The city is home to several tech unicorns.
English is widely spoken, but basic proficiency in Swedish is bound to be helpful. Some employers require foreign employees to have a working knowledge of Swedish.
Pros — Good work-life balance; decent and affordable public transport system; high standard of living
Cons — Relatively high cost of living, including expensive rents in Stockholm; high tax rates
Netherlands has a strong economy. It is an attractive destination for IT professionals with relevant skills because it has a vibrant tech sector comprising both multinationals and local tech companies.
Amsterdam, with its canals and cobblestone streets, is also where numerous IT companies, including global majors, such as Amazon, Cisco, TCS, Google, and IBM, have offices. The city has excellent connectivity, an innovative ecosystem, and a highly educated workforce, making it an ideal place for IT firms to function. Amsterdam also has a dynamic startup scene.
Tech professionals looking to work in fintech, medtech, and AI might find interesting opportunities in Amsterdam. There is demand for software engineers with expertise in Java and .NET, full-stack and back-end developers with skills in React and Python, and data architects and analysts.
Tech jobs are also available in Rotterdam, Utrecht, and Veghel.
Pros — Good work-life balance; high quality of public services; relatively safe
Cons — Relatively high cost of living; high tax rates for higher income earners
The U.S. tech industry is the most advanced in the world and continues to attract tech talent from everywhere. It was valued at roughly $1.8 trillion in 2022, according to International Data Corporation (IDC). The tech sector employs approximately 12 million workers. 2022 saw many layoffs, mostly in Big Tech.
Employment growth, however, hasn’t come to a halt. Small and medium enterprises are hiring tech workers with requisite skills. In 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment growth in the computer and IT sector is estimated at 15 percent over the period 2021 to 2031.
According to Robert Half Technology’s IT Salary Report 2023, the most in-demand roles in 2023 are likely to be cloud engineer, database developer, DevOps engineer, front-end developer, help desk and desktop support professional, network administrator, network security engineer, software developer, software engineer, and systems security manager.
Pros — Wide-ranging career development opportunities; very dynamic tech industry; more tech hubs than in any other country, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, Seattle, Washington D.C., New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta
Cons — High rents in California, New York, Washington D.C., and Seattle; comparatively poor work-life balance
Finland is the birthplace of Linux, Nokia, Angry Birds, and SMS text messaging. The country has a track record of innovation. Collaboration between enterprises, research institutions, and universities is one of the factors behind the success of the ICT industry.
Finland’s tech industry is the largest and most profitable contributor to the country’s exports. The tech industry employs the biggest share of Finland’s workforce. Global tech majors, such as Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, TCS, Salesforce, Oracle, and Fujitsu have offices in Helsinki. Finland also has a vibrant start-up environment.
The Technology Industries of Finland, a lobbying group representing around 1,600 companies in the tech industry, is of the view that 130,000 new specialists will likely be needed over the period 2021-2031. The tech skills shortage has created a demand for foreign tech specialists, particularly software developers, app programmers, and project managers.
IT professionals looking to work in healthtech might find interesting opportunities in Finland. Though English is widely spoken in Finland, foreign workers who know basic Finnish have an advantage.
Pros — Good work-life balance; high standard of living; low crime rate; for those who like saunas, there are roughly 3.3 million saunas in Finland
Cons — High rents in Helsinki; climate (winter is the longest season); high taxes, which help pay for a high level of social security and very good public services
Japan is a world leader in robotics and one of the top countries in 5G deployment. Some of the world’s fastest supercomputers for the development and deployment of downstream Society 5.0 AI applications in robotics, automation, healthcare, and extended reality (XR) have been developed in Japan, according to a Global Data report. There is an emphasis on developing and deploying AI in the automotive and robotics sectors.
Video games are very popular in Japan. Japan’s gaming market is one of the largest in the world. Key Japanese tech companies include FANUC, Kawasaki, Yaskawa, Fujitsu, Panasonic, and Preferred Networks.
Japanese tech and finance majors have recently entered into a collaboration to set up the Japan Metaverse Economic Zone. This is a multipurpose virtual environment based on a platform known as Ryugukoku.
According to a Wahl and Case blog (wahlandcase.com), there is a shortage of experienced AI engineers in Japan. There are opportunities for back-end engineers, data engineers, scientists and analysts, machine learning specialists, and DevOps engineers.
Japanese tech companies normally require foreign IT professionals to have better-than-basic Japanese language skills. An increasing number of firms require at least a JLPT N3 level of proficiency. With international companies, Japanese language requirements are normally lower.
Pros — Unique culture and aesthetics; clean environment; high civic sense; good public transport
Cons — High cost of living, particularly in Tokyo; poor work-life balance; tech salaries are lower than in the United States and some other developed countries
Fare well wherever you fare
There are many points to consider when planning a move, including visa rules, job security, work environment, safety, political and economic stability, quality of education (particularly if you have children), healthcare, language and culture barriers, and taxes. Once you have clarity on your priorities, you should be able to compare possible destinations and arrive at the best choice for you.