Watch out! Central European tech talent will take your jobs

József Boda, CEO of Codecool and Michał Mysiak, CEO of SDA Software Development Academy, explain why
József Boda and Michał Mysiak
József Boda, CEO of Codecool and Michał Mysiak, CEO of SDA Software Development Academy
Michał Mysiak (left) and József Boda (right)

Skilled technology professionals from central Europe are beginning to fill the gap between the ongoing and growing number of tech vacancies and the availability of competent tech-savvy professionals. This move by thousands of tech workers is not entirely a physical migration, but includes a combination of hybrid-working models and nearshoring.

Even in a downturn, the IT sector is typically more resilient than most and as negative economic pressures grow the tech jobs market is likely to remain robust - we will need more IT people and central Europe is poised to satisfy much of that demand.  

Why isn’t the tech skills gap being filled from domestic sources?

Attitudes to IT are certainly changing in Europe’s larger economies and for the first time in the UK since the introduction of computing at GCSE level in 2014, more GCSE students have chosen computing over physical education, clearly ICT is on the rise. Even as the domestic supply of tech talent begins to trend upwards, demand is still outpacing it and growing. 

The quality and volume of skilled tech resource coming from central Europe is growing rapidly

While ‘traditional’ locations for IT outsourcing such as the Indian subcontinent continue to provide tech services to European organisations, closer to home, the number of ICT professionals across central Europe in countries such as Poland, Hungary, Albania, Romania and Bulgaria is growing dramatically. 

Close cultural affinity with western Europe has made countries in central Europe an attractive place from which to source much needed IT talent. Language skills are good too, with tech workers having high levels of English proficiency - in Poland, 90% of software developers have an intermediate or higher level of English proficiency. 

Technical competence is also high in the Central European region, while the myth that Romanian is the second most common language spoken in tech giant Microsoft’s offices is false, it is true to say that IT education and skills development is thriving and growing rapidly in Romania, as it is in other neighbouring countries. The region has been the source of startups such as Bolt, Wise, Rohlik, Vinted, UiPath, GitLab and Grammarly, and its countries can aptly be described as digital challengers.

Lower costs and a motivated workforce make the region attractive to employers

The region boasts a young, hungry workforce and costs are relatively low, making tech workers from the region an attractive prospect. Even though wage growth is outstrippng that of western European countries, Eurostat data shows that the average cost for high-skilled workers, including bonuses and taxes, is more than 2.5 times lower in CEE than in the EU Big 5 with rates for software developers ranging from 25 USD to 50 USD.

For organisations looking to reduce cost, nearshoring some elements of IT effort to central Europe is proving to be an effective strategy, with some training providers acting as a bridge between the talent pool and employers. For example, Codecool and SDA will train up to 20,000 technology professionals annually in the region, supplying resources to brands such as Accenture, Microsoft, Motorola, Morgan Stanley, Ericsson and Vodafone. 

Nevertheless, despite local opportunities for ICT professionals in the CEE region, there is and will be movement to countries where the same jobs earn higher salaries - though this is balanced to some extent by differences in the cost of living.

Strong growth in the CEE tech sector is set to continue

Taken together the cultural fit, technical competence and rapidly growing body of tech expertise is driving huge growth in the region - in the last five years, Polish ICT exports have roughly doubled reaching 7.7 billion euros in 2020. That development is set to continue: in 2020, the proportion of the workforce engaged in ICT activities in the CEE region rose to around 3.6% which is less than the the proportion of the workforce in ICT in northern (4.72%) and western (3.9%) back in 2011!

Structural factors in the region also continue to support growth in tech. Good primary and secondary education and large volumes of STEM graduates, compared to the rest of Europe, are providing the raw ‘materials’ to drive the innovation and growth that makes tech talent in the CEE region so attractive to employers. There is a significant culture of self-education too, with the likes of Khan Academy and Tutor Hunt offering opportunities to learn on the student's own terms.

Taking jobs but perhaps not your jobs

The World Economic Forum (WEF) found that the top twenty job roles where demand is growing fastest are almost all ICT related - it would seem that although a combination of nearshoring and hiring from areas such as central Europe will fill many much needed tech vacancies in western Europe, there will be plenty more jobs in the sector to come.

About Codecool and Software Development Academy

Codecool and Software Development Academy (SDA) recently merged to become a European digital skilling and sourcing powerhouse. With presence over eight countries, the new organisation is on target to train 15,000 - 20,000 people annually in IT skills and work with 400+ corporate partners to provide workforces trained in the most popular technology subjects, from coding, security to Internet of Things and more.

Written by
József Boda and Michał Mysiak
Written by
October 19, 2022