This feature first appeared in the Spring 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 second article addressing this topic can be found here.
The IT industry is currently in a phase of adjustment, with tech companies across the world downsizing or freezing hiring. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many IT companies increased their employee count. As large numbers of people across the world suddenly found themselves confined to their homes, demand for online tools and services surged.
With life having gone back to normal in most respects, the extraordinary impulse to move all aspects of life and work online has subsided. This, together with an increase in interest rates, high inflation, slowing global growth, and weak consumer spending has had an impact on tech revenues, resulting in job losses in many countries.
As global economies tussle with these new pressures, many businesses and consumers have become cautious about spending. Tech companies are now focusing on profitability and efficiency. Industry watchers expect sluggishness in the short to medium-term, but are optimistic about long-term growth.
According to business research firm Gartner, IT expenditures worldwide will hit $4.6 trillion in 2023, a 5.1 percent increase over the previous year. The actual dollar amounts that we see as the calendar turns over to 2024 will, of course, depend on various global economic phenomena, such as inflation and currency movements.
The United States is the world leader in information technology and attracts tech workers from all over the world. The well-established U.S. tech industry offers higher salaries and more opportunities for career development in information technology than any other country. On the other hand, the United States ranks relatively low in measures of work-life balance, and the cost of living is high in the tech hubs of San Francisco, New York City, and Seattle.
Due to the ongoing spate of layoffs there will likely be more tech professionals looking for jobs in 2023. As a result of the COVID pandemic and the post-pandemic economic situation, many are rethinking their priorities. More and more tech professionals are prioritizing work-life balance and learning opportunities.
FAANG companies (the acronym refers specifically to Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google, but includes other tech firms at that level) are no longer considered the best places for cutting-edge jobs and career growth. Instead, IT professionals are showing a preference for traditional companies that have proved resilient during the downturn.
Also, remote work is likely to continue. And some prefer to work remotely if they have the option. IT professionals with relevant knowledge and experience can find rewarding opportunities in the United States and elsewhere. For those looking to work overseas, there are quite a few countries that have dynamic tech industries.
Some of the most preferred destinations for IT professionals include:
Switzerland is still an attractive destination for tech professionals. For over a decade, the country has consistently ranked as the most innovative in the world.
There are interesting opportunities for skilled tech professionals in large tech enterprises as well as innovative start-ups, and IT workers’ wages are among the highest in the world. Tech majors such as Google, ABB, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and others have R&D centers in the country, particularly in the Greater Zurich region.
Key sectors in the Swiss IT industry include AI, ML, big data, fintech, insurtech, virtual and augmented reality, robotics, drone technology, computer vision, app and game development, and cybersecurity.
Pros — Good work environment; high salaries
Cons — High cost of living, including high rents; very cold winters
The Australian economy is known for its resilience, a factor that has encouraged international tech majors to expand in the Australian market. Australia’s tech sector accounts for a lower share of GDP than those of the United States and the United Kingdom, but it is growing fast. Apart from Australian companies, quite a few global tech leaders have offices in the country, including Google, Oracle, and Softbank.
Business software, biotech, medical devices, paytech, and media and design comprise the major share of the Australian tech industry. According to Gartner, tech spending in Australia is expected to grow by 5.8 percent in 2023.
The Australian software sector is doing well. There is robust demand for experienced software developers with the right skills. Gartner expects the software segment to grow by 10.9 percent in 2023, likely because organizations are spending more on digitization. Other sectors that are driving growth in the tech industry are cleantech, fintech, healthtech, gaming, and e-sports.
Tech professionals looking to work at start-ups might find interesting opportunities in the growing sub-sectors of the tech ecosystem. Australian tech unicorns are active largely in fintech, IT services, and Internet software.
Pros — No language barrier for English-speaking professionals; great weather; decent public healthcare system; high pay for software developers and other experienced tech specialists; diverse landscape and wildlife
Cons — High cost of groceries and utilities, private health insurance is expensive
Decades of research and development in tech and science in the United Kingdom is now yielding results. The U.K. tech industry is now just the third, after the United States and China, to achieve a market value of $1 trillion, according to the Dealroom for the Digital Economy Council. It is worth more than the German and French tech industries. Around 3 million people are employed in the U.K. tech sector.
The United Kingdom has a flourishing start-up ecosystem, with more than 58,000 start-ups. Many edtech start-ups have their origin in the United Kingdom. Innovative tech companies are present across the United Kingdom., namely in London, Cambridge, Manchester, Bristol, Oxford, Edinburgh, Nottingham, and Leeds.
If you are keen on working in fintech, impact tech, healthcare tech and electronic device development, the United Kingdom might be worth a look. Impact tech refers to the range of technological solutions designed to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
The country has an excellent educational ecosystem that nurtures tech talent. One of the reasons behind the relative success of the U.K. tech industry is an emphasis on upskilling and reskilling.
Pros — No language barrier for English-speaking techies; those on valid work permits have access to a good public healthcare system; software developers are paid well; decent work-life balance
Cons — High cost of living, especially in London; gloomy weather (cold winters, rain in summer)
Germany is home to the world’s fourth largest IT industry, which is also one of the most innovative. There aren’t enough local tech specialists available to work in the country’s burgeoning IT sector. This is why many skilled IT professionals are recruited from other countries.
There are many expat tech workers in Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt, and Hamburg. Berlin has a dynamic startup environment, which offers a range of job opportunities.
Pros — Good public healthcare system; good work-life balance; English is widely used in business and most Germans speak English
Cons — High personal income tax rates
Singapore is Asia’s leading tech hub and home to the regional headquarters of global tech leaders Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM. Technology is one of the key drivers of Singapore’s economy and the nation's IT infrastructure is highly advanced. Knowledge-based businesses account for a sizeable share of the economy.
A large percentage of employees in Singapore are in knowledge-based roles. Many workers in the tech industry are from other countries. A strong emphasis on research and development has created a supportive environment for innovation, which attracts software engineers looking to work on high-tech projects.
It is expected that tech professionals with current skills in cybersecurity, full stack development, application development, Java, Python, C#, cloud infrastructure solutions, and UI/UX will continue to be in demand. According to Randstad, demand for tech specialists in banking, financial services, fintech, and biotech is expected to grow.
Pros — Diverse career development opportunities; low crime rate; very low language barrier for English-speaking professionals
Cons — High cost of living
The Danish IT industry is not as large as those of the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany, but it is growing steadily and future prospects look good. Denmark is on its way to becoming an important technology center due to strong government support, a highly digitized economy, innovation, and a dynamic start-up environment. Launched in 2018, the Danish government’s Digital Growth Strategy is yielding results.
The Danish IT/ICT industry’s strengths are in robotics, software development, audio and sound technology, wireless and mobile technology, egovernance solutions, cybersecurity, business solution development, and cleantech. In recent years, Denmark has made notable advances in software development, particularly in the areas of robotics, AI/ML, algorithms, cybersecurity, acoustics software, eGovernance solutions, and business software. Microsoft, IBM, and SAP have set up development centers in Denmark.
The country has the maximum number of IoT sensors per capita, according to www.wirtek.com. Digital Hub Denmark has been set up to attract the right talent and investment. Key digital tech ecosystems are robotics, fintech, healthtech, agritech, proptech, edtech, and createch.
At present, there is a shortage of tech and digital skills in certain areas. Demand outstrips supply partly because Denmark doesn’t produce enough STEM graduates. In the current situation, suitably skilled foreign tech specialists are likely to find rewarding opportunities in Denmark.
Pros — Very good work-life balance; flexible work schedule; Copenhagen is considered to be one of the world’s most liveable cities; solid social support system and relatively high quality of life
Cons — Relatively high cost of living; high personal income tax rates
Where will you look for work?
Experienced tech professionals have many opportunities open to them in nations around the globe. There are many nations not listed here that offer excellent IT career prospects. Ultimately, the most suitable location is that which fits your priorities. It’s important to identify what’s important to you and spend some time researching each country on your shortlist.