Nguyen Cong Ai, deputy director of consulting firm KPMG Vietnam, which employs IT staff, said at a recent forum that last year the departure rate in his company was 30 percent.

They left for ride-hailing, e-commerce and fintech companies which are pouring money into expansion in the country, he said.

This has increased the volume of work for the remaining engineers, who are working 12 hours a day and still cannot catch up, he said. “We’ve never been this busy.”

Nguyen Huu Binh, CEO of IT recruiting firm TopDev, said a wave of new startups and R&D projects from large corporations are increasing demand for IT staff, especially skilled ones.

A report by TopDev last month said IT companies are struggling to hire despite competitive salaries because of a human resource shortage.

The number of IT jobs in Vietnam has grown by 56 percent this year, the .

An experienced IT engineer in Vietnam earns on average $1,322, while at the lower level salaries have increased by 15-18 percent this year, the TopDev report said.

But compensation alone is not enough to attract skilled IT employees, Ai said.

They “evaluate a company based on how interesting their projects are. Therefore, startups are competitors for large corporations,” he explained.

In universities, IT courses had the highest cut-off scores for admission this year, pushing the traditional leader, medicine, down to second place, because of the increasing number of applicants.

Binh said for IT employers retaining IT staff is a headache.

Vietnam is forecast to have a shortfall of 90,000 IT workers this year, and experts said education obviously holds the key to this problem.

Data from the Ministry of Education and Training shows that the country produces 50,000 IT graduates a year of whom only 30 percent can start working immediately while the rest need further training.

Nguyen Ba Quynh, CEO of IT software outsourcing firm Global CyberSoft, said universities need to improve their training quality to turn an average student into a competent IT engineer.

Vietnam is likely to need 400,000 IT workers next year and face a shortfall of 100,000, according to TopDev.