James Henderson

Forget the talent war, Australian tech providers can win the skills battle in Philippines and Vietnam

As the fight for talent rages on across Australia, open-minded technology providers are switching strategies in an attempt to win the skills battle, rather than the war.

Amid ambitious government plans to house 1.2 million tech workers in the country by 2030 – which will require the recruitment of an additional 653,000 employees within the next seven years – companies are now finding new ways to bridge the significant expertise gap.

“The majority of the businesses are consistently struggling to find skilled talent to fill roles needed for growth,” observed Brendon Boyce, founder and CEO of Sharesource.

“This talent shortage has led to an increased interest in looking globally for skilled people and an increased understanding of the value that can come with filling key roles beyond your own shores.”

Brendon Boyce (Sharesource)

Drawing on 10 years of experience in recruitment, Boyce said the Philippines and Vietnam in particular are providing “highly proficient tech talent” for businesses in Australia, as well as tech providers in Canada also seeking to capitalise.

“Gone are the days of hiring people within a 20-minute commute from head office,” Boyce noted. “With tech making working remotely easy, we are seeing a growing number of businesses looking for the best candidates from a global talent pool.”

According to Boyce, such an approach allows companies to acquire skill sets that may not be readily available in local areas – whether due to a lack of specialised expertise or heightened competition for talent.

“It’s also important to note that businesses have the opportunity to hire skilled workers from the top 10% of talent in the Philippines and Vietnam,” Boyce added. “Sourcing remote teams also reduces your risk by avoiding reliance on a single location and team.

“Having remote teams distributed across different locations mitigates the impact of potential disruptions or challenges that may arise in a particular region. This diversification enhances your business’ resilience and ensures continuity in operations.”

Matching Australian demand with Filipino and Vietnamese expertise

In assessing the hiring sentiment of tech providers across Australia, 50% of employers are expecting to increase headcount during the next 6-12 months.

According to Hays Salary Guide FY23/24, organisations are increasing employee training – either internal or external – to bridge the skills gap, alongside rolling out more programs linked to mental and physical well-being, plus ongoing learning and development.

From a technical standpoint, the top five most in-demand skills in Australia are:

  1. Cyber Security Engineer
  2. Full Stack Developer
  3. Data Analyst
  4. Business Analyst
  5. Service Desk Analyst

To attract and retain talent, 94% of employers are willing to offer higher salaries to counter 56% of employees currently assessing whether to remain in current employment or seek new opportunities at higher contract valuations.

Top factors driving turnover include a lack of promotional opportunities, an uncompetitive salary and poor management style or workplace culture.

Bucking such an alarming trend, tech providers are exploring alternative talent pools originating from Southeast Asia.

“The first step to consider is defining your hiring needs,” Boyce advised. “This will help to pinpoint exactly what skills are needed in your roles.

“It’s also crucial to research and identify countries or regions that are renowned for their tech talent pools. Look for regions with a strong tech ecosystem, excellent educational institutions and a track record of producing skilled tech professionals.”

In the Philippines, notable expertise spans software and computer development, customer service and sales while in Vietnam, software development, product management, marketing and accounting roles are in high demand.

According to Boyce, the top five positions commanding the most overseas attention in the Philippines and Vietnam are:

  1. Software Developers
  2. DevOps Engineers
  3. Data Scientists
  4. UI/UX Designers
  5. Cyber Security Specialists

Boyce founded Brisbane-based Sharesource in 2013, motivated by a desire to “recruit smart people to a broader audience”.

Following a chance meeting with a new employee from the Philippines, the social entrepreneur was exposed to “what was missing and what was possible”, setting himself the audacious goal of finding 1500 smart people from 10 developing countries to “equalise their employment opportunity”.

“I believe in connecting talented people with meaningful work,” Boyce said. “My goal is to connect smart STEM professionals in developing countries with those disruptor businesses that are doing cool work.”

Sharesource management team in Vietnam

In progressing towards that goal at pace, services offered by Sharesource include offshoring, headhunting, sourcing and resume screening and scheduling.

“We believe in building and managing remote talent by nurturing a challenging yet inclusive space where your team members feel connected, engaged and valued,” he added. “Our coaching program is the ‘secret sauce’ providing personal leadership coaching to support and guide them in their personal and professional growth.”

Embracing overseas talent

With COVID-19 triggering a significant shift in how people work, the rapid transition from physical offices to remote set-ups has lowered the barriers of entry to sourcing overseas talent – not only is it feasible, it’s proving “highly effective”.

Whether a consultancy firm, managed service provider (MSP), system integrator or value-added reseller (VAR), Boyce advised that local companies are increasingly embracing technical skills markets beyond Australian borders, outlining four key motivations.

  • Expanded talent pool
  • Skills and flexibility
  • Cost optimisation
  • Distributed teams

“This expanded talent pool provides access to a broader range of skills, experiences and perspectives,” Boyce explained.

For Boyce, the pandemic has also underscored the importance of “adaptable and flexible” teams capable of navigating changing circumstances.

“Prioritise hiring technical expertise and support that possess skills and attributes suitable for remote work, such as self-motivation, effective communication and the ability to collaborate virtually,” he recommended.

“The economic impact of the pandemic has led many organisations to reevaluate their cost structures. Hiring technical expertise and support remotely can often reduce overhead costs including expenses associated with office space and infrastructure.”

Enabling all of the above is a culture of remote work that has taken over the corporate world, with the idea of building distributed teams now commonplace among organisations across a range of sectors.

“This shift has opened up opportunities to hire technical expertise and support regardless of their physical location, reducing the need for on-the-ground presence,” Boyce said. “The widespread use of virtual collaboration tools, such as video conferencing, project management software and cloud-based communication platforms, has facilitated this collaboration.”

Starting the recruitment process

For tech providers encouraged at the potential of side-stepping the Australian talent war by focusing efforts overseas, Boyce offered a five-step approach to kick-starting the recruitment process.

  • Leverage professional networks: Tap into professional networks, both online and offline, to seek recommendations and connections to overseas talent. Engage with industry-specific forums, social media groups and professional platforms like LinkedIn to expand your network and connect with potential candidates or industry experts in specific regions.
  • Engage with local tech communities: Actively participate in and contribute to local tech communities, both in your home country and overseas. Attend conferences, meet-ups and industry events focused on tech and innovation. This can help you connect with professionals from different regions and gain insights into the talent landscape.
  • Collaborate with local partners: Establish partnerships or collaborations with local organisations, universities or research institutions in countries or regions known for their tech talent. These partners can provide valuable insights, referrals or even facilitate talent acquisition programs.
  • Leverage online job platforms: Utilise online job platforms that have a global reach, allowing you to post job openings and attract talent from around the world. Platforms such as Indeed, LinkedIn, Stack Overflow, and GitHub Jobs have international reach and can help you connect with overseas talent.
  • Engage with a talent sourcing business: Consider partnering with experienced tech resourcing companies that specialise in sourcing, training and supporting talent from specific regions. These businesses can help you navigate the hiring process, conduct candidate screenings and assist with international hiring logistics. They should then work with your local teams to build culture and support each member in their roles to foster personal skills growth and longevity in their roles.

For Boyce, organisations should also develop a “robust selection process” that includes interviews, technical assessments and cultural fit evaluations, leveraging video conferencing tools to connect with candidates overseas.

“When evaluating overseas talent, consider cultural fit and their ability to adapt to your organisation’s values, work culture and collaboration styles,” he recommended.

Boyce said cultural compatibility is important for effective teamwork and successful integration into a tech provider environment – it not only enhances team performance but also plays a significant role in talent retention.

“It’s crucial to establish clear goals and work expectations,” he added. “Regular check-ins, feedback and collaboration play a vital role in supporting remote talent to become valuable contributors to your team.”


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