Qualif ied staff badly needed

Even the most optimistic prognoses failed to guess that Belarus would so badly need IT specialists

By Denis Patolichev

Even in the crisis year of 2009, software production growth at the High-Tech Park reached 152 percent, with approximately the same expected for 2010. Exports are actively increasing, while the domestic market is also strong. Accordingly, the High-Tech Park’s administration and its 88 company-residents (currently employing about 8,500 programmers and engineers) are concerned about finding adequately trained personnel.

Since early 2010, about 800 new jobs have been created at the Park but almost 500 specialist positions remain vacant. There is a dearth of applicants, despite the average monthly salary reaching $1,150. The establishment has already employed all those whose qualifications more or less suit its needs and programmers from neighbouring countries, including Russia, have begun heading to Minsk’s ‘Silicon Valley’. The situation was quite different four or five years ago.

“At present, sadly, the needs of our company-residents for specialists exceed the number of such graduates from the country’s higher education system,” explains the Deputy Director of the HTP Administration, Alexander Martinkevich. “The Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics has just completed its preliminary distribution of alumni. A quarter are set to join the HTP but we are ready to employ even more. Of course, we understand that other state companies also need staff. This is why we propose to increase the enrolment of students for corresponding specialities.”

The HTP administration — with support from its company-residents — is trying to attract even those with basic technical education. To succeed on this path, over 40 laboratories have been launched jointly with company-residents at technical universities countrywide. Students work on real projects, while mastering technologies beyond their usual curriculum. On starting work after graduation, they continue developing projects begun at university.

Additionally, from 2011, the HTP is to open its own training centre to re-train personnel. For example, an engineer can be re-trained as a qualified programmer in just 6-8 months, while other IT specialists can be prepared. Importantly, the centre will offer not just training but a guaranteed job at an HTP company (if final examinations are successfully passed). Simultaneously, a Belarusian-Indian training centre is being launched at the HTP. Belarusian specialists who have passed an internship at India’s leading universities and programming centres and have mastered modern technologies will lecture.

Of course, being the largest of its kind in the country and paying good salaries, the HTP is doing well and is employing the best of the best: ‘the personnel cream’. This is not appreciated by everyone but the establishment has its own logic. “If specialists can attract dozens of times more investments and modern technologies into the country while working at the High-Tech Park, rather than at any other company, then it’s clear where they should be working,” believes Mr. Martinkevich.

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