Turkey: The Rising Tech Talent Hub

Turkish developers’ progress is making the country a rising tech talent hub - let me explain how.

We have been hearing a lot about tech talent in Eastern European countries and India. Many companies have been outsourcing their IT and R&D to these countries. However, the need for developers is exceeding talent pools in these countries and the tech sector needs new rising stars. Turkey is one of them with its vast and qualified talent and several other advantages. Turkish developers’ progress is making the country a rising talent hub, especially in the past few years.

Let me explain how.

First, how does Turkey compare to the other tech talent hubs?

I compared Turkey and four popular IT outsourcing destinations. 

Talent pool in Turkey is growing faster than its Eastern European counterparts like Ukraine, Romania and Poland. This is expected since developers were a smaller share of the population and the market is correcting itself thanks to increasing demand. 

Turkey has also been increasing in the Global Services Location Index rankings: In terms of availability of talent, financial attractiveness, and better business environment, Turkey and Poland left Ukraine and Romania behind. Depreciation of Turkish Lira made Turkey particularly attractive. This is reflected on the developer salaries as well. Currently, Turkey has the lowest level of entry-level developer salary among the 5 countries. Senior developer salaries are much higher, but still fall behind the salaries in other countries. Turkey is also ahead in the Ease of Doing Business index, helping global companies operate in the country more easily.

Turkey is doing equally well or better than its counterparts in terms of tech talent gender diversity, exposure to cybersecurity risks, availability and quality of human capital, and innovation.

Source: Patika.dev

Profile of the Turkish developers

  • High level of education: Turkey ranks top in Europe in access to universities. 8 million people are attending higher education. Every year, around 98,000 students with STEM degrees graduate from universities (35% female). On Patika.dev, which is our online ed platform for developers, 90.8% of around 20,000 learners have at least a university degree. High access to universities is because public universities are tuition-free. This makes some of the best schools in the world, like Middle East Technical University, Bogazici University, and Istanbul Technical University, available to Turkish engineers for free. 
  • High self-learning skills: There is a growing movement to improve the number and quality of developers across Turkey. Resources for developers and demand for them have been skyrocketing in the country with the help of many new bootcamps, government programs, hackathons, student clubs, mentoring activities, and more.  Turkey is the 5th country providing Udemy traffic. At Patika.dev, where we provide tech career pathways for aspiring developers, we are also witnessing a similar demand: Monthly growth of the user number is 65% since March 2021! 
  • English skills: Although Turkey lags behind other tech hubs in terms of English language skills of the average population, the developer community is well aware of the importance of language skills. Most of the leading universities teach completely in English, which propels the English proficiency among the university-educated engineers. There is an increase in both paid and unpaid English speaking clubs. For example, the English speaking club of Kablosuz Beyin, a Discord server with 5,000+ members, hosts weekly, unpaid English speaking club sessions. You can expect an intermediate or upper-Intermediate proficiency of English from these developers. 
  • Diversity: Around 35% of all Information and communication technology degree graduates are women in Turkey - much higher than the UK (19%) and the US (24%). When compared to Eastern European countries, Turkey still has the highest participation of women in tech. 
  • Specialty: The tech talent in Turkey is distributed among many specialties and levels. According to Talentgrid, the most popular programming languages for backend development are C#, Java, PHP, and Python. The most popular backend frameworks and libraries include Node.js, .NET Core, .NET MVC, Django and Spring. For frontend development, you can easily find developers using JavaScript - especially in React and VueJS frameworks. Interest in AI technologies is skyrocketing, with more than 21,000 Turkish people on Linkedin marking themselves as Machine Learning Engineers. But, it is harder to find developers in some niche technologies like Golang, and PHP Frameworks such as Symfony. When we look at the distribution of our 20,000+ Patika.dev talent, 28% is working in Frontend web development with React, 20% is in Java development, 20% is in data science, and 8% is in .NET Core. 

Why are Turkish software developers so good?

This question was even posted on Quora. If you are working with a Turkish developer, you probably experienced this first hand. But for those who are yet to discover the quality, here are some reasons: 

  • One of the strongest growth in tech communities takes place in Turkey: According to Github, Turkey is among the top 10 countries that have the strongest growth in open source contributions.  In 2018, when Ben Frederickson dug into GitHub data to figure out where the world’s software developers live, Turkey was behind Ukraine. But today, Gayan Kuruppu’s dataset demonstrates the striking increase in Turkey’s GitHub activity: The country now has more than 203,000 users (more than 10 times 2018 number), leaving behind Ukraine (199,000+ users) and Romania (182,000 users). The momentum for training more software developers in Turkey is helping this growth. 
  • Turkey is becoming a hub for innovation in Europe, providing great growth opportunities for developers: Financial Times explained in an article how Turkey became a star of European Tech. Companies like Trendyol, Getir, Hepsiburada, and game companies like Peak Games and Dream Games are valued as unicorns. Turkish tech companies have raised more capital in 2021 than the previous 4 years combined. Delivery Hero, the world's leading local delivery platform that acquired Turkish Yemeksepeti in 2015, just decided to open its next tech hub in Turkey after Berlin and Singapore. These investments help companies grow their tech teams and invest in their training. Turkish startups and scaleups are becoming great schools for developers. 
  • High demand for remote work and relocation: If you are looking to hire remote developers or relocate them, Turkey is one of the hottest locations now. With the depreciation of Turkish Lira, many developers are either looking for remote work in international companies or migration opportunities to Europe, UK, or US. In recent years, software developers are among the top groups leaving Turkey to earn more. As I mentioned before, the salaries of Turkish developers are much lower than their counterparts. This is a great opportunity for tech companies to hire exceptional developers for affordable salaries.
  • Cultural similarities to the West: It is hard to generalize people and cultures - but Turkish developers easily fit in the work cultures of the Western Europe and the US companies. Turkish culture is also known to be entrepreneurial and creative, Turkish developers understand the opportunities that becoming a senior software developer would bring to their lives. Many work hard and invest in learning and community involvement. At Patika.dev, our bootcamp trainers are senior software developers who work during the weekends to train new developers. All of our 80+ trainers are very hardworking and passionate about improving themselves through giving back to the community. It is rare to see highly skilled developers spending their weekends in such a devoted way. 

There is a huge untapped potential in specific sectors like game industry  

Turkey’s gaming industry has been booming in recent years: In 2018, Peak Games became the first unicorn in the country with Zynga’s $1.8 billion acquisition. Zynga, then, increased its focus on the country with a $168 million investment in Rollic Games. The Chinese tech-giant Tencent acquired Masomo for $100 million. These investments are just the beginning: Many Turkish developers are interested in working in the gaming sector, and they do a great job: Turkish publishers have much higher download rates for their games (806k downloads per Turkish mobile game) than the global average (only 496k per mobile game). The rating for Turkish mobile games is also above the global average.  

Adding Turkish developers to your game development team makes sense: You not only have access to this booming talent, but also can grow into the Middle East market with the Turkish engineers’ cultural familiarity.

Turkey’s strategic advantage compared to other tech hubs 

Maybe you don’t read much about Turkey when you look at “best countries to hire your next tech talent” lists, but you are probably starting to struggle with popular locations like India or Eastern Europe. In India, crazy competition for tech talent forces companies to pay candidates just to take their assessment tests. 

When there is an imbalance in the market like this, there is an opportunity. Not many international companies have discovered the high supply and skills of Turkish tech talent yet. The first companies to understand the value of Turkish developers will have a significant competitive advantage. 

If you’re interested in discovering more about this opportunity, contact me at gulcan@patika.dev and I’d be happy to discuss how we can help you!

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