The tech and wider STEM sector (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) are ones that have historically been accessible to few – and mostly dominated by men. However, recent years have seen a surge to push STEM to become accessible for all – particularly an encouragement for children in schools at an early age.
Teaching STEM is crucial to the future of our planet. STEM touches virtually – if not every single – innovation in the world, and introducing the world of tech to as many young brains as possible is undoubtedly the only way we will unlock the full potential of technology.
Despite global encouragement of tech teaching and career implementations, some countries just don’t have the same opportunities as others. To better understand the state of tech opportunities across the globe, we’ve analysed tech education and tech career opportunities across 38 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) countries, looking at things like government public spend on education, number of engineering and technology universities, number of tech jobs, and average tech salaries to determine which country is the best ‘Tech Teacher’.
Check out the full findings of our research below.
Our research found that Sweden was the country setting up people for opportunities in tech best, with a score of 75.7 out of 100. Sweden scored highly across all of our scoring metrics, however, given that Sweden has had things like compulsory education since 1842, alongside many other innovation policies, this may not be surprising.
In the 1990s, the Swedish government pushed out a broadband network, so Sweden’s high score may well be highly attributed to their early access to fast internet, given they were a society of early modern everyday technology adopters.
Following Sweden was Norway with 69.9/100, then Portugal with 67.7/100 and the UK with 64.9/100.
Other highly ranking countries include the likes of France (59.1). Historically, French inventors have played a crucial role in the development of things like photography, electric generators, and refrigerators.
More so, Switzerland surprisingly didn’t rank in the top 10 OECD countries, despite being the most patent-intensive country in the world.
Turkey scored the lowest in our research for overall technology opportunities, with a score of 23.8/100. However, despite the low score, technology and development activities in Turkey have had a significant jump in recent years, with the country going from 65th to 37th on the Global Innovation Index (2011 to 2023).
Following Turkey was Latvia with 31/100, then Hungary with 35.5/100.
Other low ranking countries include places like Germany (37.3), which may be surprising as Germany has one of the largest ICT markets in the world and the largest software market in Europe, with an estimated over 95,000 IT companies, and some 1.1 million employees (as of 2022).
How do the countries with the best tech opportunities compare to those with the lowest?
Which OECD countries are setting up people best for tech education opportunities?
Technology in education has been a part of global mindsets for some decades now, but the importance – or perhaps convenience – of technology in education has become ever-prevalent in the past few years, especially since the pandemic saw children across the globe completing their classes from home.
While the use of technology in education is a helpful tool, the actual teaching of technology is arguably even more important, especially as new technologies, like IoT, make room for more and more jobs.
Although most OECD countries have tech education as compulsory in their curriculums, some of the countries perform better than others with the technology education opportunities.
Our research found that Sweden was also the best OECD country for tech education opportunities, with a score of 85.9/100. Again, this finding might not come as a massive surprise considering that Sweden is often ranked as one of the world leaders in education. Despite Sweden’s relatively small population, it’s home to some of the world’s best universities and our research found that there were 13 engineering and technology specific universities in the country.
Notably, more than half (52.3%) of Sweden’s 25-34-year-old population have a tertiary education (education that occurs after high school, such as university), and they rank 99/100 on Coursera’s Global Technology Skills Rank. Interestingly, Sweden’s school minister Lotta Edholm recently moved Swedish students off digital devices as much and back to books, suggesting that there may be a balance to strike between using technologies physically and learning about them through more traditional methods to have a successful technology education.
Norway came second with a score of 84.6, followed by Belgium with 70.6.
Interestingly, even though Iceland ranked last for overall tech opportunities, when we isolated our research to look at just educational opportunities, Iceland came fourth (68.6). Clearly, there’s a gap in technology education and career opportunities in the country.
Turkey also came last in our tech education scoring with just 18.2 out of 100 points. However, WorldBank noted significant improvements in Turkey’s education system since 2003, so hopefully the future is bright for budding Turkish minds.
How do the countries with the best tech education opportunities compare to those with the lowest?
Which OECD countries are setting up people best for career opportunities in tech?
It’s safe to say that careers in tech are booming, despite the global fears surrounding the implementation of AI potentially taking jobs. In fact, in 2022, there were more than 9 million people employed in Europe as ‘ICT Specialists’. However, there still continues to be a gender gap in tech, with men accounting for 81.1% of these roles, compared to 18.9% women.
Similarly, the US has an estimated 12+ million tech workers, with the American tech market accounting for a whopping 35% of global figures. Still, the question begs, which OECD country is the best for those looking for a role in tech?
Interestingly, despite the US’s astounding share of the global tech market, the country only ranked 19th in our research. Rather, Portugal came out on top.
According to the most popular job site in Portugal there were 5,781 tech jobs listed, meaning there were 56 tech jobs available for every 100k people. Portugal is world-renowned for technology opportunities and is quickly becoming known as one of Europe’s ‘Tech Hubs’.
Some have noted the Portuguese government as a large part of the reason behind this, given their implementations of policies and programmes to support the growth of the technology sector. These include things like tax incentives for startups, the establishment of technology parks and incubators and new funding for research and development.
Our research also found that the top 10% of tech workers in Portugal can expect to earn as much as 241.45% of the average annual salary, with remote software developers in Portugal earning an average of $108,997 each year.
Comparatively, Iceland was found to be the worst country for technology career opportunities, with a score of just 14.9 on our index. Our research found that there were just 66 technology-based jobs listed in Iceland at the time of writing (November 2023). However, remote software developers in Iceland can still expect to earn some 70.22% more than the average annual salary.
Interestingly, Business Iceland launched ‘Science City’ in 2022 in a bid to attract fast-growing tech start-ups to its capital city Reykjavik. Will it work? We suppose only time will tell.
Other low ranking countries include Italy (37.9) and Finland (32.4). Some have suggested Italy struggles with tech career opportunities because of rigid contract structures.
How do the countries with the best tech career opportunities compare to those with the lowest?
Factors to determine which OECD country sets up children and young people best for opportunities in technology were taken from a variety of data sources, including official OECD, Eurydice Network and ONS.
Data found includes: age technology education is implemented in schools, whether or not technology education is compulsory, number of university courses related to technology per population, number of jobs available that require technology skills, adult literacy rate and global technology skills rank, amongst others.
We ranked each data category, assigning a weight of up to 10 points based on its significance. The scores were then divided into 10 distinct ranges. Depending on where a value landed within these ranges – and the weight assigned to its category – countries were awarded corresponding points.
We then combined each of the countries’ scores, giving a normalised score out of 100% before converting to the same weight of ‘educational technology score’.
It should be noted that much of the data used was not publicly available for North Korea, so only South Korea was included in the score.
If you would like to see the full list of data and sources used for this campaign, please contact a member of Distrelec’s KnowHow team.