White collars from software sector are leaving Turkey

White collars from software sector are leaving Turkey

I am going from one corner of Turkey to the other in pursuit of a dream.

Coding and digital games, with which I am not familiar at all, are at the focus of my project. That’s why I go visit my friends who are much more knowledgeable and try to learn from them. I have held talks in Ankara, Istanbul and İzmir. I had online meetings from India to Silicon Valley. I would like to share two observations right in the middle of my research that will last around two months. As much as the first fills me hope, the second fills me with concern. 

First, I will give the good news.

Turkey’s global brands

I do not know the number of sectors where we have global brands, but the digital game sector is one of them. There is a well-equipped human capital in the software and digital games sector in Turkey and that’s why we have several success stories in this area.

Gramgames and Peakgames are brands that are already worth hundreds of million dollars.

We can add Crytek, established by third generation Turks in Germany, to this list as they are expanding their activities in Turkey.

Also due to these success stories, we have companies that hire games and software developers not only in big cities but also in Kayseri, Trabzon, Mersin as well as India.

This kind of activity in a sector with a bright future gives me hope in the name of my country.

Brain drain of software developers

My second observation is not that positive. Yes, indeed, we are very good in the games and software sector, but that does not mean we are where we want to be. Turkey has the world’s 18th biggest game market. Each year more than 30 million consumers are spending nearly one billion dollars on computer games. An important portion of this money is going abroad. When there is such a big dimension on the consummation side we need to make forward planning in the production side too as this is a fast growing sector. It is right there that I have growing concerns, because the common view voiced during all the meetings that I have been conducting is this: We cannot keep our software developers in Turkey.

One in three leaving for the software sector

I decided to do some research since this was just an initial observation.

But similar observations are quite widespread in the software sector. In fact, on Ekşi Sözlük, a crowd-sourced online dictionary-like portal, there are hundreds of stories under the headline “software developers leaving Turkey.” The numbers given by Barış Soydan in his article published on the T24 news website can help us understand the dimension of the problem.

Software tops the list of the sectors where there is a brain drain abroad among the white collars.

In fact, according to one calculation, one of every three white collars leaving abroad is in the software sector.

A wagon without a locomotive

If Turkey will write a new economic development story, there is only one way, that is value added production.

The software sector is the locomotive of this type of economy.

That’s why while we should seek ways to equip our children with these skills on all the educational areas, we have to also find the ways to keep well-trained software developers at home. Because there is a very simple equation: Each one person from the software sector that goes abroad is also taking with him/her the future of our economy. Why are they going, what can we do to keep them? It is the right time to ask these questions.

A wagon without a locomotive is bound to standstill.