The War on Ukraine Is a War on the U.S. Talent Market
When looking back at my time in college, almost two decades ago now, my education included learning about globalization and how the world was becoming increasingly more interconnected due to business, international conglomerate global domination, the internet, and technology. In truth, business knows no borders, which is something that historic government controls continue to maintain, despite business becoming a global landscape.
The talent market is one area that has seen a boom in offshore outsourcing, and the U.S. has become the largest consumer of offshore talent, over any other country. This is for good reason (especially in technology) since companies can access the same level of capable engineering talent in offshore labor pools with up to 81% savings over onshore.
Ukraine is one of the U.S.’s biggest partners of reliable and scalable offshore tech talent. In fact, the country is ranked 5th out of the top 25 global tech talent exporters. The market is worth $6 billion in Ukraine’s economy and over 200,000 of their IT professionals are employed as offshore resources. The country ranks 5th globally when it comes to skill versus value with a 93.17% score.
Ukraine has over 130,000 engineering graduates per annum, which when compared to the U.S.’s 237,000 graduates (from a population eight times that of Ukraine’s) is remarkably large. The high concentration of computer science and technical graduates is reflective of previous forecasts that the country's offshore services market size will grow to $8.4 billion by 2025. The U.S. depends on this talent supply and the consequences could be dire if we don’t take further actions to stop the members of Russia responsible for the invasion, with further aggressive sanctions.
With the U.S. as one of the largest consumers of offshore talent from Ukraine, they’re far more than a supplier, Ukraine is a partner to the U.S. This means that we must support Ukraine and that the continuing invasion by Russia could have major impacts on our economy.
Major Talent Shortage:
It would be naive to convince ourselves that there is plenty of replacement talent in other offshore, or even onshore, countries. The International Monetary Fund published that there is a major global tech talent shortage, which will only continue to grow between now and 2030. The shortage is predicted to consist of 85 million people with a loss of $8.5 trillion in possible revenue. When applied to the invasion of Ukraine, the loss of their talent supply is a major hit to not only the U.S. economy, but also the global one as well. This enormous talent loss is so substantial that we cannot simply replace it by using other suppliers in other countries—the talent surplus in those markets simply does not exist.
Whenever you reduce the supply in an already underserved, highly competitive market, the cost of talent and the production of technology skyrocket. This makes our economy less competitive and has a major ripple effect across all businesses. If businesses, and in particular start-ups, are unable to complete their technology projects for the initial forecasted costs, this could severely impact the success rate of tech start-ups, which are the backbone of innovation and growth for entrepreneurs, employment, and investing institutions.
Wars are won with technology, including data, infrastructure, and global platforms—not just missile tech. Losing Ukraine would have a devastating impact on the available talent market and the sudden loss of such an integral partner would surely hinder the United States’ overall global competitive potential. If technology projects cannot be completed on budget and on time, they will inevitably fail. And this global impact on the talent market could genuinely be the death of a generation of talent in every sense.
The invasion of Ukraine isn’t just happening in another faraway country, it’s most likely attacking the material components of what makes your business or the business you work for successful in one way or another. The war could be the reason that enterprises around you, which are material to your happiness, success, and economic prosperity are negatively impacted. While you might not be acutely aware of how it’s impacting your life at this moment, eventually it will become more clear, and by that point, it will be too late to make the necessary changes.
As a collective, we must do all we can to keep peace on our planet. When compared to today, the borders of battles such as WWI and WWII were much more prominent, given how unconnected by technology the world was then. But today, if one of our partners anywhere on the planet falls, all of us do. That is the modern-day ripple effect of war. However, instead of a ripple, the impact will be more like a tsunami if left unresolved.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.