Tech talent search: 27% of UK businesses are looking abroad and even making the leap to emerging hubs

Tech professional? On the hunt for a new job? Then businesses are on the lookout for you – wherever you are – with one in four UK firms looking to hire abroad to curb their skills gap.

One in four UK businesses (27%) have or are considering hiring tech talent abroad, with diversity and filling open roles to close their domestic skills gap at the top of their agendas for their global talent search.

Despite 39% of businesses considering casting the net to emerging ‘tech talent hubs’ in Central or South America and Europe – like Buenos Aaires, Helsinki and Guadalajara, the search for talent is still honed more towards traditional tech-centric cities – with 70% most likely to consider hiring from New York, Paris, San Francisco and Berlin.

A survey of 251 UK decision makers – part of a study of almost 1,500 across the UK, US, France, Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands – by global workforce consultancy Remote found that a fifth of businesses believe that tech talent is still in supply in London, and are continuing to hire in the capital.

But of those UK businesses looking to hire across the globe, specifically from hubs cited as emerging markets, 55% said they were likely to look to hire from Melbourne, Australia, 49% were considering Warsaw, Poland and Budapest, Hungary and 48% were likely to look in Johannesburg, South Africa.

By contrast, just 29% were considering Campinas, Brazil, and 31% were thinking about hiring from Shenzhen, China. And in a roll-call of more established tech hubs outside of London, UK businesses were centring searches in New York (70%), Paris (67%) and Berlin (63%).

Where in the world – is the world searching for tech talent?

Across all 1,485 decision makers within the countries in Remote’s research, those that were looking away from home to hire tech talent named Warsaw (77%) and Mexico City (77%) as the places they were likely to hire from – with Melbourne just behind (76%).

But while 27% of UK businesses have already hired or are trying to hire globally, 63% are concentrating their talent search within the UK, despite 18% admitting difficulties finding the right people locally.

Comparable findings from Remote across businesses around the world showed that while UK businesses are taking the leap to hire globally, they are slightly behind more worldly counterparts.

Just over a third (36%) of all decision makers in Remote’s research were actively looking to markets outside of their home territory to hire talent, while 68% of US businesses said they were only recruiting in their domestic market, compared to 52% in the Netherlands and 62% in France.

Why hire globally for tech talent?

Despite 25% of UK businesses considering tech hires from abroad in a bid to plug the skills gap, 67% said they were doing so because they wanted to diversify their teams.

Diversity was the top reason for hiring outside of domestic soil across all countries in the survey – cited by 58% of respondents – while 52% said they wanted to strategically try new markets and 39% said the pandemic had allowed them to broaden their search for talent.

Across all six countries, one in five businesses admitted to a shortage of tech talent at home.

Barriers to hiring from abroad

A quarter of UK businesses still struggling to make the leap to hire from emerging tech hubs said they were being held back by not having legal entities in those markets, while 18% conceded they were shying away having never hired in those markets before.

And while technology and remote working has advanced, companies remain unsure of how to accommodate global talent, with 15% of UK decision makers saying they were unsure how to organise teams across different time zones, and 12% expressing concerns about language barriers.

Learning about local legal requirements and language barriers were the biggest challenges faced by UK businesses hiring in emerging regions, each cited by 47% of respondents, while 46% listed local regulations around payroll, and 36% highlighted bringing together different work and management cultures.

CEO and Co-founder of Remote, Job van der Voort, said: “When I think about the colossal opportunity to hire great talent around the world, the challenges businesses are facing and blockers to hiring the best talent seem small.

“Tech talent hasn’t disappeared, it’s just distributed around the world, and companies need to overcome the challenges to access it.”