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In the end of April, 2011, Infopulse Ukraine took part in a roundtable talk devoted to the problems of IT education. The event gathered the leading IT companies’ managers as well as representatives of the country’s educational institutions. The discussion proved to be hot and fruitful as IT sector is one of the few spheres where Ukraine appears to be competitive internationally. However, even this privilege can be lost unless IT education issues in the country are promptly resolved.
Aleksandr Nekhoda: information is the social air
At the roundtable Infopulse Ukraine was represented by its Operations Director Aleksandr Nekhoda who had the honor to open the event. He began his speech setting the problem – the acute shortage of qualified IT specialists in the country. He made a graphic comparison of the information in the modern world with the social air, and the IT industry – with the enterprises forming the society’s respiratory system.
Aleksandr Nekhoda emphasized the importance of the IT sector in Ukraine’s contemporary economics as well as the fact that this sector produces a significant part of the domestic product without using any mineral resources. Moreover, today IT industry is a chance for Ukraine to occupy a decent place in the world economics, and the Ukrainian state should take care of it, otherwise it will be occupied by someone else. The Ministry of Education should address this problem by improving the IT specialists preparation system in all kinds of educational institutions.
How can we not only stay but also extend our activity on the world market of the countries supplying IT products and services? It can be done by improving the preparation of the IT specialists of all qualifications. Aleksandr Nekhoda pointed out the following key problems of the higher IT education nowadays.
Firstly, the existing quota system created by the Ministry of Education for the specialists’ preparation in general as well as IT specialists in particular is not oriented to social and market needs. Through inertia the preparation is largely done in irrelevant majors, while the new IT specialties demanded by market fail to be introduced;
Secondly, the education quality doesn’t correspond to the contemporary needs. There are problems with teaching staff qualification, curricula, textbooks and technical equipment. IT companies are ready to assist with the specialists’ preparation but business and education cooperation has not been regulated by the law yet;
Thirdly, there is an insufficient level of English teaching – while English is an international language of IT industry. According to Aleksandr Nekhoda the typical situation on the IT market is the following: university graduates are not ready to be involved in real projects unless they started working while studying. Due to this, companies are forced to partake in specialists’ preparation. It takes about a year of pretty hard work for a company to make a good junior specialist of a fresh university graduate.
The Common Decision
The roundtable talk was initiated by Incom Director Aleksandr Kardakov. The Chairman of State Committee on Science, Innovation and Information Vladimir Seminozhenko and representatives of country’s leading universities and companies such as Microsoft Ukraine also took an active part in the event. The host of the meeting was a famous TV pesonality Mustafa Nayem. Live broadcast of the event could be watched on Computer Review website.
Meanwhile many company managers and executives were involved in the preparation of the Infopulse Ukraine participation in the roundtable. A number of points brought up by Aleksandr Nekhoda which provoked lively responses of the participants were developed with the help of the information provided by the General Director of Infopulse Ukraine Aleksey Sigov, HR Director Lyubov Yudenko and the representatives of HR department, the Director of Application Services Department Mikhail SIkalo, Senior Project Manager Ilya Tsvetkov and others. Due to the limited time given for the reports conditioned by the format of the roundtable only a few of their thoughts made it to the final version of the report. Nevertheless, the company has more suggestions for the solution of the problem discussed.
‘First of all, the problem of setting quotas should be urgently resolved on the governmental level,’ says Aleksey Sigov, ‘The Ministry of Education of Ukraine has announced that the admission this year will decrease by about 40%. That means that the number of IT specialists can become smaller which is unacceptable. We would like to interfere in the process and suggest definite quotas demanded by the market. Moreover, the government could increase the number of IT specialists by offering teaching a variety of IT specialties through the system of retraining courses. The same practice is common in a number of developed countries. For example, now the program for retraining into an IT specialist is being adopted in Israel on the parliamentary level. Those who happened to be unemployed in their sphere will be able to undergo a 16-month training course. Similar programs already exist in other countries, such as France and Switzerland. In Ukraine such a program could help people whose specialty has become redundant with employees or who are simply unemployed find a decent job.’
The correct establishment of quota could help not only the market which lacks certain specialists but also the educational system itself which could economize by stopping producing less needed specialists who are not able to find a job and have to go abroad in order to get it. Today Russia removes obstacles for hiring IT professionals from other countries which means that university graduates who turn out to be unclaimed in Ukraine will go for work there
While these problems are being solved the gap between the level and the number of Ukrainian IT specialists and their competitors from other countries is growing. In particular, nowadays in India the percentage of IT specialists is twice and a half as much as in Ukraine since this sphere of employment is booming and has the distinctive priority. That is why the revision and improvement of the university curricula, solving problems connected with the teaching staff and quotas should become some of the most important tasks for Ukrainian education system. Otherwise Ukraine risks losing its still existing advantage on the market.