The Romanian IT industry offered full-time jobs to 75,500 IT employees. Additionally, there are 17,000 IT professionals working as sole traders in Romania, according to a recent study carried out on the industry. However, this is not enough to cover the demand for skilled labor in the field and some companies fear that the development of the sector may be stalled.
There are currently 14,000 IT companies in Romania, which, in 2014, generated total revenues of EUR 4 billion, 26 percent more than in the previous year, according to the latest survey on the state of the Romanian IT industry carried out for iTech Transilvania by ARIES Transilvania.
“Romania is part of an ample transition process, and the significant growth posted over the last decade can continue and make our country a regional point of reference from the point of view of the production of local intellectual property. This is why it is necessary to bring a set of measures adapted to local needs that should keep the market agile and also cover future needs,” according to Valerica Dragomir, ANIS executive director.
Women are much more present in the IT industry in Romania than in other countries. In Romania, 71.1 percent of ICT specialists in 2014 were male, which was one of the lowest shares of male ICT specialists at EU level, next to Bulgaria (68.2 percent) and Estonia (70.4 percent), according to data published by Eurostat.
The IT is one of the few sectors where workers have a salary that is considerably above the country average. A Romanian programmer can get a monthly salary of EUR 8,000 per month, while a web designer can earn EUR 3,000, according to Digitaljob.ro. This salary level also applies for other senior specialists who master certain technologies in their field of activity.
“For several years now, Java has been a hot field where resources are constantly looked for. The DevOps concept is starting to catch up more strongly. Due to the growth of the mobile market and of applications like Internet-of-things, companies are starting to train security specialists. In Cluj, since more and more traditional outsourcing companies are shifting towards products, there is a growing demand for business analysts who understand the business side from a technical context,” according to Academy +Plus representatives.
One bit of good news for the ICT sector may come from the authorities: the government is looking for ways to modify the law exempting companies from the payment of the 16 percent income tax for employing programmers, in a bid to include start-ups, Marius Bostan, the minister of communications stated, as quoted by startupcafe.ro.
At the moment, the law only includes companies that can demonstrate an income of at least USD 10,000 for each such employee during the previous fiscal year. Posts that can benefit from this tax relief include data base administrators, analysts, informatics system engineers, software system engineers, informatics project managers, programmers, informatics system designers and informatics systems programmers.
Bostan said the Ministry of Communications is working together with three other ministries to create an order including start-ups.
“In past years, the IT software and services industry has posted exponential growth in the economy, with an annual average growth of approximately 15 percent in the last 5 years. At the moment, according to the National Institute of Statistics, there are approximately 100,000 IT specialists in the IT industry, whereas the number of fresh graduates from technical colleges who are entering into the sector is estimated at approximately 7,000, and has increased over the past 5 years, even by 10 percent every year,” Dragomir says.
However, the good news stops here. More and more voices in the industry are complaining that there is a shortage of skilled people that is putting a cap on the development of the industry. “According to the statements of companies, this number of new employees is not satisfying the expansion plans of the teams and projects, and companies are looking towards connected specializations for employments (…) The human resources issue is a priority for our industry, being a factor that can grow, or just the opposite, put a break on its development,” according to Dragomir.
On the other hand, Academy +Plus representatives emphasize that the true deficit lies in the lack of experienced workers, since juniors are much easier to find. “Therefore, it is important that the company that does the employment should invest resources to internally train the recruited people,” they point out.
“More and more employers are not requiring higher education in this field but specialized courses on the technologies where they are active. This proves the need for practical experience, rather than theoretical knowledge. Also, in very high demand are multi-tech specialists who master several programming languages and can easily switch among them and easily make the transition to new projects,” according to Academy +Plus representatives.
ANIS suggests as a solution to grow the number of technically skilled people who can be employed in technical professions by rolling out short-span classes, growing the number of professionals with average skills thorough medium-term superior education programs, and last but not least, the creation of specialized training programs for nurturing abilities necessary for growing the industry on a business model based on product development.
Also, another challenge that the local industry must face is the migration of specialists on the labor market, both at European and global level, according to Dragomir. “The ANIS approach in this direction is not necessarily to stop this migration directly, but to keep and grow in Romania a favorable environment for investments and the entrepreneurial culture,” she says.
“Another solution is to bring talents from other countries, and according to our data, some Romanian companies are already doing that, especially with the citizens from the Moldova Republic, but not only,” she says.
Teodor Ceausu, country manager Ixia Romania, tells BR that it is important that high-schools and universities should adapt their curricula to the needs of the market and place emphasis on the practical side. Also, young people should be offered the possibility to choose classes based on their aptitudes and preferences, he suggests.
On the other hand, companies in the IT industry should start collaborating even more actively with the technical academic environment. “Either in the case of college labs with the latest generation equipment and facilitating the contact with a higher number of specialists in the company, or the organization of internship programs and summer schools, it would be wonderful to see more and more companies that include programs with the academic environment in their long-term strategy collaboration,” says Ceausu.