Michael TomaraQA Engineer

History of Technical excellence in Ukraine


Technical progress is generally a non-linear process; rapid economical and social changes caused by it often re-arrange the hierarchy. New circumstances make new industry leaders emerge and new niches grow while older tech trends and markets are losing importance. For example some Southeastern Asian countries quickly became mature IT industry players despite the post-war and post-colonialism hardships; while the worldwide coal industry, once the leading source of energy, is now mostly thriving on subsidies. Today we will take a look at a country for which both coal and IT industries are areas of key importance.

Donetsk Binary Studio hometown.jpg

Having the 2nd (following Russia) biggest territory in Europe, Ukraine potentially could have become a tough challenger in the continent’s markets. By the time of gaining independence, it was a powerful agricultural and industrial cluster in the former USSR. Besides the aforementioned coal industry (back then, its importance was much higher), the country owned numerous plants and factories belonging to steel, weaponry & heavy machinery manufacturing, chemistry, space & aircraft engineering and many other branches. Most of them are located in big cities such as Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Kharkov, Donetsk, Nikolaev, Zaporozhye etc. Of course, all those complex organizations constantly demanded hundreds of qualified engineers. Consequently, all major cities of the country had several big educational institutions with strong orientation towards main industrial branches.

Ukrainian system of higher education held leading positions compared to most of other members of the former USSR. During the 90s – 2000s it faced significant difficulties yet managed to keep its quality and popularity high enough. In 2012 Ukraine got the best rank in Eastern Europe according to a research of higher education in various countries. Currently Ukraine has more than 800 universities offering graduation and post-graduation programs. They operate in terms of the Bologna process; and most of them maintain profound studying of most widespread European languages such as English, German, French, Spanish etc.

The early 90s saw Ukraine face a number of serious challenges, along with most of other Central & Eastern Europe. Such countries as Czech Republic or Poland being Warsaw Pact members were dependent upon Soviet Union, politically and economically; so after its collapse they had to undergo significant reforms. Consequently, national industries often suffered – old supply chains were broken while conquering Western European markets was hardly possible. Ukraine being a core Union’s part had even more difficult problems to overcome. The Union’s industry was much centralized due to the specifics of planned economy; so even its major part loses its efficiency after becoming ‘independent’. It was too difficult for Ukraine to maintain its industry to the full extent. During the next decade many plants, factories and mines got closed. As a result the country had a numerous tech workforce which could not implement its skills. Most evident solution for such people was reorientation; they had to find a new niche where they could use their knowledge best. Right at the same time the software industry grew rapidly all over the world; and it badly needed more working hands.

Two big factors influenced the growth of IT in 1990s. First, personal computers became a common household element in most countries. Second, the World Wide Web came to offices and households. As a result, new consumer trends emerged, new types of services quickly appeared; and eventually new markets with immense potential lay open before the industry players. Then came the Dotcom era, the social networks, blogospheres, mobile solutions etc. Despite any crises, the world software industry continued to grow; and its peak is not reached yet. Experts anticipate significant IT skills shortage in 2014 because “the demand for tech and software talent is exploding”.

Donetsk Technical University library Binary Studio.jpg

Fresh workforce was often found in countries with less developed economy, with people either employed directly or via outsourcing schemas. Eastern & Central European countries became mature IT skills providers by 2000s. A recent research published by a consulting company Tholons pours some light on the situation. In the list of world’s most popular IT outsourcing destinations Eastern Europe is in the Top 10 (Krakow, Poland taking the 10th place); and most of local cities present in the list can boast the positive growth compared to the previous year. Ukraine owns two entries in it - #55 for Kyiv and #89 for Lviv (both with positive dynamics as well). And hopefully its positions will become even better eventually.

 

IT sector continues gaining popularity in Ukraine. Each year more and more students choose to master in Computer Science and Software Development, eager to participate in interesting projects or to work on their own start-ups. Steady migration to the IT segment goes from other areas such as Math or Applied Math (which traditionally were highly developed in Soviet times); from Telecommunications, Industrial Automation etc. So isn’t it a good time to check what outsourcing services you can get here?