LVIV – IT is so hot here that companies are working with the city to recruit specialists from Belarus and Moldova.
Today, about 20,000 Ukrainians work in IT in Lviv, the largest city in Western Ukraine. But with the sector growing by 20% annually, companies say they need more software engineers to sustain growth.
IT accounts for about 30% of Lviv's total economy. The sector generates a further 72,000 jobs in areas connected to tech.
“We're going to start pilot advertising schemes on television and online to attract IT specialists to Lviv from countries such as Moldova and Belarus,” Stepan Veselovskyi, CEO of the city's influential IT Cluster, said in an interview. “We're now working with the Lviv City Council to develop this plan and it has their support.”
About 60 IT and tech companies in Lviv are members of the Cluster. With 9,000 individual members, it's the largest IT association in Ukraine.
“Companies already are actively searching for and hiring specialists from around Ukraine, especially places like Kharkiv and Kyiv,” added Veselovskyi. “But with the sector growing so fast and more human capital needed, we want to start thinking bigger.”
The Cluster is behind several of the city's most ambitious IT projects, including education initiatives and the construction of a new 38,500 square meter “IT City.” With construction to start this year, this $150 million complex will provide office space for dozens of companies and thousands of workers.
“IT companies in Lviv already are working hard to attract talent from around Ukraine, and this new initiative to hire from abroad will also help – this happens in every other country,” says Zenoviy Veres from Ukrainian software giant Softserve. “Ultimately though, we need to invest in and improve IT education, to address the challenge of needing more specialists.”
Both Belarus and Moldova have thriving IT industries, but finding stable and well-paid work can be difficult, especially in Moldova.
Integrating specialists from Belarus and Moldova poses challenges.
The vast majority of Belarusians coming to Lviv would be able to use Russian – almost 75% of the country use it as their first language. But it would be difficult for recruits from Moldova, where only about 15% of the population speaks Russian easily.
“Most importantly, we have to think about welcome packages and how to integrate these workers to Lviv,” says Veselovskyi. “A convincing pitch can be made to attract them here. Salaries average $1,500 a month, and are often even higher, and we have a good quality of life here.”
According to the IT Cluster, special housing developments and a residential “IT Village” will be available to workers coming to Lviv. Companies are formulating relocation packages and other incentives.
At the same time, Ukrainian IT companies are fighting to retain their own tech talent. Although young Ukrainians in IT can earn far above the national average wage, the temptation to emigrate is strong.
“Ukraine is losing too many of her best specialists, and this is the case for Lviv too,” says Igor Salamin of PLVision, a company developing industrial internet of things solutions for export to Europe and North America.
“The solution is to keep improving work conditions here, and that includes improvements to daily life,” he says. “We're having trouble hiring enough engineers at the moment. While it has its challenges, hiring specialists from abroad is a great idea.”
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Posted Jan. 19, 2018