The demand for tech workers is huge all over the world and no more so than in the United States. According to some estimations, the tech industry accounted for 8% of total U.S. economic activity in 2016, employing over 7 million tech workers. What these numbers show is that the tech industry is a major driver of the US economy and employment. But with tech workers comprising 10% of all jobs added to the economy, where are all these skilled tech workers coming from? Are they coming from the US or abroad? And if they are coming from the US, how do the skills of US-based tech workers stack up worldwide?
Answers to these questions come from a recent study of over 100,000 coding tests sent by tech recruiters to developer candidates. The DevSkiller Global Technical Hiring & Skills Report 2019 is a unique source. It goes beyond survey results to look at the actual coding tests recruiters spend money on sending to the actual developer candidates. This includes data about how well candidates do on the tests and where the candidates take them. This report sheds a ton of light on tech workers and the companies that employ them.
*Two points to note going forward. The report mentions average test scores. These can be down to the aptitude of the candidates but they could also be a reflection of how appropriate the test is to the skills needed for the position.
Also, the report includes the candidate’s location based on where they take the test. Often, candidates take the test in their own country but sometimes you also have candidates take tests in foreign countries.
Where are US companies looking for developers and other tech workers?
First of all, you have to look at the state of the industry. According to the Report, 48.45% of the developers recruited by US companies take the test from outside the US. This is not as high as countries like Kuwait where a full 98% of their developer candidates take the test internationally. It’s still a great deal more than the US’s friendly neighbor to the north, Canada where only around 22% of the tech workers recruited take the test outside the country.
When you consider the vast scale of tech recruitment in the US, 31.2% of all of the tech workers taking coding tests internationally are recruited by US companies. But this doesn’t mean they’ll take just anybody. US companies only approved the results of 34.26% of the candidates they send coding tests to, making the US the ninth most selective country in the world.
These facts raise some interesting questions like where are US companies getting all of these developers and other tech workers from? Not only that, why are they looking beyond their own shores? To find answers to these questions, it is important to look at the top three countries that the US recruits developers from.
Which countries does the US recruit tech workers from?
The most developers taking tests outside the US for US companies take their tests in India. This makes sense given the size of the tech labor pool there. Given that India is a lower salary economy with a software developer in India making on average 9% of the salary of a software developer in the US, are US companies simply getting in cheap replacements with few skills?
The evidence says this is not the case. The average score candidates for US companies get on coding tests is 39.92% which is almost exactly the same as the average score of Indian developers on the platform which is 38.59%. India quality provides a large source of technical workers that US companies can draw on.
The country that the second largest number of tests are taken in is Argentina. Similar to Indian tech workers, Argentine candidates are also highly skilled. They get almost the exact same score (42.22%) on coding tests as US candidates (42.29%).
Developers taking coding tests in Poland score very highly, coming in at 41.09% on average. In this way, Poland is similar to India and Argentina. The difference with Poland is that Polish companies also test candidates internationally in addition to being a source for US-based companies. And get this, the US is the third largest source of candidates for Polish Tech recruiters.
The report shows that the US is drawing on countries with large pools of highly-skilled workers. What does that say about US tech workers and their skills? Are US tech workers not skilled enough to compete on the international market which is why so many developers are recruited internationally? To find out, it is important to look at the top countries that recruit US developers.
Which countries recruit US developers?
1. The UK
Coming in first is the UK. There are a few superficial reasons that you would expect for this. The US and the UK have long cultural and linguistic ties. It is one of the easiest places for an American to relocate to physically and culturally. That is a lucky break for British companies who test a full 73.76% of their software developers outside the country. Even though the UK is a medium-sized country, a full 9.9% of the candidates sent international coding test get them from coming from British companies.
Most overseas candidates for British companies don’t even take their tests in the US. First place instead goes to India with second place going to Germany. India is a top location for a lot of countries who recruit internationally while it is easier to legally hire German developers in the UK. Interestingly, the US recruits the most UK tech workers after Poland. The volume of developers taking coding tests for Polish companies in the UK can be explained by the fact that there is a large Polish Community in the UK.
Speaking of Poland, the second highest number of overseas coding tests taken in the US are for Polish companies. Part of this could be down to the fact that Polish companies are the second largest driver of overseas recruitment after the US. This is interesting as Polish companies generally get better scoring candidates (42.87%) than US companies (39.92%). While Polish companies are the second largest recruiter of developers in the US, the US is also the largest recruiter of Polish developers.
Canadian companies are the third largest recruiter of candidates in the US. This could be because it is the only country which is geographically and culturally closer to the US than the UK. That said, the US is still not the largest source of overseas developer candidates for Canadian companies. That title goes to Brazil with the US coming in second. On the other hand, the US is the largest recruiter of Canadian developers.
What do these findings mean for US Companies and tech workers on the international stage?
From the looks of it, US companies are finding the skills they need and US tech workers are competitive on the world market. Most companies have large pools of international tech workers that they can use to satisfy their skills shortages. Countries like Argentina and India provide a pipeline of much-needed skills. But has the internationalization of the tech labor market seriously disadvantaged US tech workers?
If they are willing to work to work for foreign companies, US tech workers definitely have options in addition to the ones provided at home. Countries like the UK, Poland, and Canada are hungry for US developers. On top of these, there are plenty of other countries that US tech workers can find employment.
The most interesting finding is that tech recruitment is only a one-way street for certain countries. India and Argentina are a source for tech workers internationally while their internal developers can meet internal demand. What you see in developed countries like the UK, Poland, Canada, and the US is that there is a regular exchange of tech between those countries.
Of the top three countries that recruit developers in the US, the US is one of the largest if not the largest international recruiter of developers in those countries. This points to and more efficient market for software developer skills. Because of the international nature of the labor force in tech, you’re able to find developers with the right skills wherever they live, even if they are in another thriving economy.
Want to learn more about technical hiring and skills?
These are some of the conclusions that you can take from the data in the DevSkiller Global Technical Hiring & Skills Report 2019. But they are only a small part of what’s available. The report includes 15 original insights about the geography of tech recruitment and the latest trends in technical hiring with PDF’s and interactive maps.