6 out of 10 companies face difficulties in hiring IT specialists. Simona Pavelescu, CEO of htss: On-the-job specialization programs yield extraordinary results

  • 2023-09-06

In the European Union, over 6 out of 10 companies have encountered difficulties in recruiting IT specialists, according to a Eurostat report. To counteract the human resources crisis in the IT industry, companies are resorting to innovative solutions such as outsourcing activities, collaborating with various educational institutions, developing special programs to improve employee retention, and even establishing in-house IT academies, where young individuals without experience are specialized on the job.

According to Eurostat data, one in ten companies attempted to hire IT specialists in 2021. Among them, 62.8% faced challenges in filling job positions. Slovenia (78%), Czech Republic (77%), and Germany (76.6%) are the EU member states where companies encountered the most significant difficulties in hiring IT specialists. On the other hand, companies in Spain (32.8%), Bulgaria (46%), and Poland (46.5%) faced the least difficulties.

„In Romania, 58.6% of companies have faced challenges in recruiting IT specialists, placing us slightly below the EU average. However, the challenges are significant here as well. Despite the wave of layoffs in the IT industry overseas, Romanian companies continue to encounter difficulties in the process of hiring programmers. Approximately 10,000 IT graduates enter the job market annually, a substantial number, but still insufficient to meet the demand," says Simona Pavelescu, CEO of htss.

Why isn't Romania affected by the wave of layoffs in the US?

Tech giants overseas, including Oracle, Meta, Google, and Amazon, announced massive layoffs in the early months of the year. According to Simona Pavelescu, there are several reasons why this wave of layoffs currently doesn't affect an emerging market like Romania, including lower costs of qualified labor and adequate infrastructure.

"Our country continues to be an attractive destination for software development and outsourcing. Labor costs for qualified workforce are lower than in developed economies, and Romania benefits from high-performing IT infrastructure. Therefore, local companies continue to attract new clients and projects, even during this period. However, we are talking about an interdependent market system, and we do not exclude the possibility that echoes of the layoffs overseas could appear at a regional level in the future. However, for now, this is not the case," adds Simona Pavelescu.

How do Romanian IT companies counteract the programmer deficit?

In an industry with such a competitive job market, companies are forced to employ unconventional tactics to ensure the workforce needed to scale their businesses. Among the measures practiced are outsourcing activities, collaborating with various educational institutions, developing special programs to improve employee retention, and even establishing in-house IT academies.

"Domestic software development companies constantly operate under the risk of reaching a plateau. Most of the time, the risk is not due to market positioning or demand for their own products but rather the insufficient number of IT specialists required for business expansion. This is why companies must become increasingly inventive in their recruitment, training, and retention efforts. htss is a case in point, founded in 2012. Just two years after its establishment, the company decided to create its funnel for recruitment and specialization. The decision proved to be inspired, with an 80% retention rate for graduates of our IT Academy. Furthermore, some of our Academy graduates now hold top management positions within the company, confirming that on-the-job specialization programs yield extraordinary results," Simona Pavelescu adds.

From internship at htss IT Academy to Chief Technology Officer

The pilot edition of htss IT Academy was developed in 2014. Six young individuals completed the program, and three of them still work at the company, including the current Chief Technology Officer of htss, DragoČ™ Andrei Niculai.

Within the IT Academy, participants benefit from courses and workshops, and the program is custom-tailored, influenced by factors such as industry reference standards, mentor feedback, individual aspirations, and projections regarding future competency requirements. Upon program completion, graduates take a test, and based on the results, they receive a job offer, are allocated to the appropriate teams, and receive ongoing support from a tutor responsible for the continuous learning process of new employees.

"Participating in an internal training program offers a unique opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge gained in classrooms to real-world projects. When I applied to htss' IT Academy, I was in my second year of Computer Science studies. I already had some practical experience, having successfully completed several freelance projects. However, as a result of participating in this program, I developed my technical programming skills, gained a better understanding of industry practices, and improved my problem-solving technique—an essential skill for a successful career in software development."

"But participating in such a program also helps you build a valuable network of contacts. Networking can lead to job offers, references, and a deep understanding of the various career choices you can make. However, in the best-case scenario, after completing such a program, you may find that you resonate with the team and the organizational culture and choose to accept a job offer if presented. This was my case, and nine years later, I am still part of the htss team, progressing through all stages from trainee to Chief Technology Officer," says DragoČ™ Andrei Niculai.