ITMO: Outcomes of 6th St. Petersburg International Labor Forum

The 6th St. Petersburg International Labor Forum took place on March 14-18. This event brought together representatives of business, administration, science, education, and HR. They discussed new tendencies and challenges of the labor market, such as the lack of IT specialists. Read on to find out more about the measures taken by employers to solve the pressing problems, as well as what to expect in the future.

About the forum
This year, the event took place at Expoforum, Tauride Palace, and St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In addition, a series of discussions was held online.

Among the key topics discussed on the final day of the Forum was the situation in the IT industry. The lack of IT specialists has forced companies to significantly increase the number of vacancies, lower the requirements for applicants, and raise salaries to record levels. How can they form and retain IT teams in the new environment? How will the situation on the market affect the education sector? What skills do today’s professionals need? Heads of IT companies and HR departments from various fields spoke about these topics and more. Marina Kauponen, head of ITMO’s Recruiting and Internal Communications Center, was one of the invited speakers.

The statistics
Ksenia Stepanova, head of corporate culture and internal communications at HeadHunter, spoke about the current figures in the IT labor market. IT specialists are most in demand in Moscow (36%) and St. Petersburg (13%). When it comes to skills, the following are important for employers (in descending order): SQL proficiency, teamwork, Git, English, Linux, Python, JavaScript, project management, literacy, and PC skills. As for applicants, every year their salary expectations grow. Over the past few weeks, they have gradually begun to exceed the numbers offered on the market.

In early 2022, analysts detected a rise in the number of job offers and CVs in IT. As of now, the situation has changed: the number of active offers decreases, while the number of CVs increases. At the same time, there’s a tendency for more and more people to be ready for relocation.

The analysts don’t rule out the possibility that the negative effects for the labor market, such as the high number of specialists willing to relocate, are here to stay. However, there might be a silver lining: those who started to look for jobs after international companies left the market can join Russian organizations or launch their own projects.

Changing the field
According to Vadim Sabashny, chief executive officer at Lanit-Tercom, and Sergey Timoshin, head of the North-West macroregion at Tele2, the IT market has been scaling up not only thanks to specialized programmers, but also because of transfers of specialists from various fields, such as economics, law, or humanities. Higher education isn’t necessary to obtain some of the required skills.

However, this doesn’t apply to all IT fields. Eleonora Rusanova, HR director at Security Code, says that it’s hard to find employees that meet their requirements, as the field of information security calls for a high level of expertise and experience. Vadim Sabashny says the same about AI technologies: this field grows rapidly but it’s specialized professionals with fundamental training who are in demand there.

Focus on schools and universities
In order to cultivate new generations of young professionals, who, among other things, specifically meet their needs and requirements, companies send their representatives not only to universities but also schools. The lack of human resources has resulted in the fact that today’s students start preparing for their future jobs earlier than before. That’s why employers arrange various career guidance courses, clubs, contests, and exhibitions, as well as deliver talks on the IT sector and its key fields. As noted by Eleonora Rusanova, such actions will help increase the number of prospective students who consciously decide to study at technical universities, as well as those who will stay in their subject area after they receive their diplomas.

As for universities, companies offer multiple internship opportunities for students, not to mention various corporate Master’s programs and specialized courses. Andrey Zakharov, the HR director at Nexign, highlighted that the company collaborates with ITMO University, St. Petersburg State University of Aerospace Instrumentation, and St. Petersburg State University and thanks to this, 25% of their vacancies are filled with students from these universities.

The ever-increasing demand for students among companies was also noted by Marina Kauponen. According to her, the university expands and constantly increases the number of cooperation projects, including ones in the educational sector. By involving practicing specialists into the educational process, the university aims to help students acquire sought-after knowledge and skills. Marina Kauponen believes that many ITMO students who are now pursuing their Master’s can easily claim the middle+ positions after they graduate.

“The ITMO’s IT-related programs are focused on practical tasks and are designed to equip students with applied skills, which is possible thanks to the active cooperation with different businesses and the involvement of specialists from the industry in the educational process.

I’m confident that the university will continue to actively develop its collaborations with business representatives in the future, too. Because this kind of partnership is beneficial for both sides. The university provides companies with the fundamental base, and businesses, in turn, bring the so-needed dynamics, real-work cases, and practical tasks into universities.

Our university also employs IT specialists since we have multiple new and ongoing projects. We’re happy to see people who are open to new trends and studies and are eager to contribute to their community and society in general. Each member of ITMO.Family has the chance not only to work here but also teach students, conduct scientific activities, and meet like-minded people,” says Marina Kauponen.

What to expect
Dmitry Cherneyko, the chairman of the Committee on Labor and Employment of the Population in St. Petersburg, claims that the development of national software and possible cooperations with Asia (India, China, Turkey, and others) will help the IT sector advance in the next two to three years.

Nevertheless, all the speakers agree that it is hard to give any specific predictions for the future since both employers and applicants are still analyzing the current situation. At the same time, representatives of companies focused on the Russian market stated that they do not reduce the number of their staff but rather are willing to welcome new employees, including students, on board.

The industry has been growing and experiencing the shortage of highly qualified professionals for a while yet the speakers summed up the discussion saying that the situation will most likely not change dramatically in the coming years.


Comments are closed.