Development of IT education, cooperation with universities, legislative stability – a request from the industry of information technologies
Yesterday, representatives of business and government gathered at the IT Conference to discuss the state of IT, tech education in Ukraine, prospects, and challenges of IT development.
The first panel started with a discussion of new technologies and their further prospects. The moderator of the event, EBA Deputy Director for Advocacy – Ms. Svitlana Mykhailovska noted that in 15 years the export of IT services has increased 114 times. Currently, IT exports account for 8.3% of total exports (goods and services, in 2020), according to the balance of payments of the NBU. And the industry grows at the average rate of 20-25% annually. While total exports of goods and services, according to the NBU, decreased by 4.6%. And in the face of fierce global competition and pandemic stagnation, IT has every chance of success and further development in the international arena. “And today we met with business, international colleagues, the authorities to discuss what helped IT to make a sprinting leap in development, as well as what to expect in the future,” – added Svitlana.
Valerii Krasovskyi, Co-Founder and CEO of Sigma Software, noted that 10 years ago, Ukrainian IT was perceived as a low-cost service. Now everything has changed, and Ukrainian companies work with the world’s largest brands, and Ukrainian programmers successfully carry out complex projects with a full cycle of development and support, rather than offering piecemeal solutions. It is possible that European countries have not yet fully understood the country’s potential, however, the United States is adapting very quickly and is already aware that Ukrainian IT is a provider of interesting products and services. Actually, the development of Ukrainian IT is reflected in the increased emergence rate of startups. “We have created a unique business incubator – Software Lab and have already invested in about 15 product startup solutions, I hope we will come up with several unicorns. In general, investment in startups has increased worldwide from 70 to 300 billion dollars a year. This is a significant increase. The development of Ukrainian IT today is hampered by the lack of IT specialists and possible changes in the legal framework. Therefore, we as a country need to work very thoroughly on the development of education and create conditions for the industry in which the rules of the game are clear and consistent, “said Valerii.
Vitalii Sedler, CEO Intellias, also stressed that education is a limiting factor for the industry: “The industry could grow faster if there were more skilled engineers.” Unfortunately, the state education system does not cope with this. “Accelerated by the pandemic, global digitalization is gaining momentum and stimulating the rapid development of the IT industry. With many years of expertise, the Ukrainian IT industry can count on a place at the forefront of key global IT players. After all, Ukrainian companies, including Intellias, have long been advising business giants, helping them choose the best technological solutions. And effective interaction between the government, business, and educational institutions will strengthen Ukraine’s position as an IT center in the global market, ” specified Vitalii Sedler.
Yurii Antoniuk, Head of EPAM in Central and Eastern Europe, stressed that one should not think that the IT industry revolves solely around programmers. “The world is currently looking at Ukraine as a service provider. So, we need to think about how to build a complete infrastructure, a kind of closed-cycle – from business consulting to solving strategic issues. And this requires investments in education, in the development of the domestic market, the development of startups, and so on. We need to restructure the legal system, adapt legislation to modern requirements. And very soon we will be able to see how Ukraine will be in the top 20 tech countries of the world, “said Yurii Antoniuk.
Alberto Levy, IE Business School professor, focused on the latest trends that will take place in the next 5-10 years such as reset, retech, and reimpact. After all, now people are learning to re-evaluate their lives, learn to adapt, respectively, and brands are thinking about new ways of attracting consumers, protecting personal data, and so on.
Bert Feskens, Innovation Liaison – Sr. Programme Manager, The Hague Security Delta, supported the importance of the ecosystem because when all the elements interact, stability is created. That is why it is important to share knowledge, views, experience – between countries, between government and business, etc. After all, for example, new technologies are constantly developed in Europe, the USA, Ukraine, and it is a pity not to be able to use them. So, there is currently a demand for knowledge and exchange of views.
Svitlana Larchenko, Head of Public Sector, Transport &Telecommunications at SAP Ukraine, noted that we have recently seen significant progress in building public digital services for citizens. At the same time, both in the state apparatus and at the level of state-owned enterprises, the digitalization process is still hampered by insufficient technological and methodological readiness of organizations, as well as the human factor in the form of resistance to necessary changes. Of course, the complex construction of digital platforms requires time, investment, in-depth analysis, and the use of world best practices. However, the management of state-owned companies, in contrast to the business sector with a clear long-term strategy, changes quite often, and the planned business transformation simply does not have time to be implemented. Instead, the process of optimization and digitization each time starts from the beginning, effectively canceling the work and investments made under the leadership of predecessors. Perhaps one of the supporting factors to overcome this situation would be to bring the corporatization process to an effective condition and develop a clear business strategy for shareholders, which will attract investment and drive changes.
Peter Kolomiets, Co-founder and CBD IdeaSoft, drew attention to such impressive trends as fintech (which gained 20% of investments in 2021), automotive, healthtech, request to pay, blockchain, etc. And there will be many more such technologies. It is planned, for example, to introduce a digital hryvnia. Such innovative tools can automatize many routine processes. “And, by the way, Ukraine is also a developer of a large range of technologies. International partners come to us for expertise, not for cheaper labor. We can sometimes give a customer the things that Israel or the United States cannot. Moreover, large Ukrainian IT companies are ready to support startups and mentors, and this will also help the industry to jump higher,” emphasized Peter.
The second panel was focused on the importance of IT education. Oleksandr Bornyakov, Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation for IT Development, stressed that the Ministry has set itself the task of doubling the share of IT in the country’s GDP and creating the largest IT hub in Eastern Europe in Ukraine. This can only be achieved if we have enough talents, so the Ministry of Digital Transformation is actively involved in the development of IT education.
Kyrylo Kryvolap, Head of the Economic Recovery Center, noted that the discussion on education development was quite strong and the official working group, which included experts, business representatives, officials, MPs, educators, and young people, is already finalizing its work. “In 2030, Ukraine is forecast to have a shortage of more than 230,000 IT professionals of various profiles. The growth in the number of specialists in the assumed scenario is equal to the cumulative growth of GDP over 10 years by $ 3.3 billion. So, today we need to work on the development of the field at every level: mathematics in schools, modern specializations in vocational schools, financial autonomy and dual education in universities, special conditions, and government procurement for non-formal education. The draft Roadmap includes initiatives in secondary, higher, advanced, and non-formal areas of education. The Center’s research showed that the following solutions can be the most effective for the development of the sphere: significant increase of teachers’ digital skills, simplification of access to the STEM for switching teachers, full use of non-formal education opportunities, proper career guidance, financial autonomy, dual education, endowment management funds, facilitated access to teaching for teachers-practitioners and foreign professionals, improved management in educational institutions, the formation of professional standards for new IT specialties, simplified licensing and the abolition of VAT, etc., – added Kyrylo Kryvolap.
Artur Seletskiy, Deputy Minister of Education and Science on Digital Development, Digital Transformation, and Digitalization, added that not only universities are undergoing transformations but also schools. There are really many tasks, and the movement towards the development of IT education is an important priority.
Eduard Rubin, Chairman of the Board, and Owner of Telesens, stressed that colleges also have great prospects. A striking example is Kharkiv College where IT companies have helped to raise the efficiency of the teaching staff, which has led to an increase in demand for college education – currently there is a competition for 15 people per place. Therefore, management in education is an aspect that needs special attention. In fact, this is why a public-private partnership is needed so that businesses can share practical knowledge with teachers as well. Moreover, it is important to teach learning skills to teachers as now online has become very accessible, so a good option may be to find the right e-courses.
Taras Kytsmei, Co-founder, Board Member of SoftServe, also shared his experience of effective public-private partnerships at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv which created the Leadership School for Teachers to develop successful university managers. This is a kind of educational Pre-MBA for teachers. After all, education is based on people, and people need a foundation in order to be successful managers. And this year the school was launched for the second time. Besides, Taras stressed the importance of developing dual education in the country.
Vitalii Sedler, CEO of Intellias, emphasized that switchers can also be a powerful opportunity for the industry. After all, the industry is thirsty for staff and is ready to accept people without experience in IT, or those who want to change their profession to IT. Moreover, we are currently promoting the idea that joining IT is not difficult, and training lasts about 3-6 months.
Olha Mahaletska, Head of the Office of the National Investment Council under the President of Ukraine, noted that today universities produce 15-20 thousand graduates, and this is catastrophically lacking. IT education needs to be comprehensively updated at all levels – and here it is important to balance systemic reforms and quick solutions. Ideally, IT knowledge should start at school. Also, it is important that vocational education goes hand in hand with higher education. Moreover, it is necessary to provide the right incentives for the industry, such as exemption from VAT on non-formal education, and so on.
Andrii Yavorskyi, SVP, Strategy and Business Operations, Europe, GlobalLogic stressed that one of the company’s priorities is the development of engineering talents. Since 2018, GlobalLogic has invested more than $ 4 million in Central and Eastern Europe. Most of these funds go to Ukraine. Specialists are trained within the GlobalLogic Education program, in particular, courses for beginners – GL BaseCamp – and courses for more experienced professionals – GL ProCamp. Thanks to GlobalLogic Education, more than 4,000 engineers have started working with GlobalLogic. Moreover, this number includes people without commercial experience. Over the past six months, such specialists accounted for 25% of the total number of newcomers to the company.
At the end of the event, Deputy Prime Minister-Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine – Mykhailo Fedorov spoke about digitalization in the country and plans for IT development. “I believe in the country of entrepreneurs. And in low taxes which will help the business grow. Of course, Diia.City is not the only component of the success of Ukrainian IT. But it is very important for Ukraine to become the largest IT hub in Eastern Europe. The world is evolving and competition for business is growing stronger. It is the special tax regime that will operate to help us beat this competition. The industry is already making a breakthrough and it is important to provide it with a solid foundation for the leap. At the same time, this will be facilitated by digitalization, which since the creation of the Ministry of Digital Transformation has begun to permeate every state activity. Yesterday, the Ministry of Digital Transformation, together with EBA representatives, defended the Diia.City initiative at the relevant committee of the Verkhovna Rada, so that the tax draft law was adopted in the form we agreed with the industry. It is unacceptable to cross out the positive developments that we already have. We are now creating a new culture of cooperation between business and government. At the same time, the Ministry of Digital Transformation and EBA are working together on the Diia.City project. I am confident that only in this way will we be able to form productive, practical, and effective policy principles in the country, ” stressed the Minister.
We thank the speakers and participants for a great event. Also, EBA is especially grateful to our partners – N-iX, Intellias, Sigma Software for cooperation in this event.
And, as N-iX CEO Andriy Pavliv noted, the phenomenal growth of the Ukrainian IT industry we see today would be impossible without the cooperation of all market players – educators, various organizations, IT companies, and IT specialists. In 2002, when my partners and I founded N-iX, few people knew about Ukrainian IT. And today, N-iX customers are world leaders in a variety of industries and work with Fortune 500. For many years, our company has been actively involved in solving current industry problems – we cooperate with universities, support many technological and business events, are a co-founder of the Lviv IT Cluster, and a member of many organizations. Ukraine’s image as a powerful technology hub is the work of many people and businesses, and if we want to grow further, our cooperation must only intensify.
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