Vietnam is becoming more well-known as a global innovation hub centered in SEA. Pic: Unsplash

Vietnam’s growing tech talent pool is attracting foreign companies to settle down

BESIDES providing a vast pool of loyal factory workers for Samsung, Vietnam is also a breeding ground for technical talent.

Silicon Valley venture shop 500 Startups announced a micro-fund dedicated to Vietnam this year, allegedly drawn to the country’s young tech-savvy population with a median age of 30. As reported by Reuters, Google engineer Neil Fraser recently visited schools in Vietnam and praised the level of engineering prowess there.

“Vietnam has the highest-performing computer science students I’ve ever encountered… the exercises I watched them solve would be considered challenging problems for a Google hiring interview,” said Fraser.

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There’s certainly something in the water in Vietnam, as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has ranked 15-year-olds studying science and math above its American, Australian and British counterparts.

Thanks to its schools’ high regard for math and science, Vietnam is increasingly seen as an attractive alternative for tech companies that want to look outside of the standard IT service hubs in India and China. The Southeast Asian country’s talented young workforce, retention rates and IT infrastructure has drawn global companies such as IBM, Intel and Microsoft to set up shop there, as reported by CIO.

A source for the story, a executive with a decade of IT outsourcing experience with Vietnam, said culture has a lot to do with developing an attractive tech talent pool. While it is “culturally and socially acceptable” in China and India to move to other countries for career progression, it is typical for Vietnamese people to seek opportunities in their home market so they can provide for their immediate and extended families.

Scandinavian startup Pangara, builder of a freelancer platform, is one of the many foreign companies tapping into Vietnam’s tech talent pool. It praises Vietnam’s fast-growing digital community and also the calibre of its engineering talent pool, which apparently can rival that of developers in Northern Europe. The startup is headquartered in Ho Chi Minh City, despite being founded by an all-Swedish team.

Despite the quality of its tech talent, Vietnam’s weak spot is its low English proficiency – which makes it difficult for global companies to run customer support or marketing teams out of the country. Still, experienced engineers that cost a fraction of what software developers in Silicon Valley are expecting in starting pay, are unicorns. Taking that into consideration, Vietnam’s certainly got talent.