IT in Belarus in 2018: The Industry Is Growing Up. Research by Dev.by, Part 1

This year, dev.by conducted its tenth annual research of the Belarusian IT labor market. The results significantly updated blocks of questions about technology, finance, and education and collected a record-setting 4,660 anonymous questionnaires. This is two times more than last year (2,100) and three times more than two years ago (1,500).

The first part of the report presents a demographic portrait of the Belarusian IT specialist as well as the distribution of specialists by position, work experience, gender and education in 2018.

Geography and demography

Over the last five years, the share of IT specialists in the regions increased by a third, to 11.8%, but still varies within the margin of statistical error – from 0.9% in Mogilev to 2.4% in Grodno. Minsk, with its educational and career opportunities, still remains the most attractive center. The share of remote development that could affect the rating of the regions is insignificant. At the same time, offices of large companies and local startups in other localities are presented less in comparison with the same staff in the capital.

In 2017 we noted the stabilization in gender distribution within the industry. Nevertheless, according to 2018 data, the number of women in the industry has grown to 25%+. It is obvious that the Belarusian IT industry is rapidly moving away from the mono-gender inherency and has changed since its inception (even considering possible fluctuations in the activity of respondents of either gender).

The industry continues to grow extensively, and therefore the average age of an employee has risen. At the turn of 2019, it reached 29 years. The Belarusian IT industry is far behind its long-standing US and European counterparts in terms of age indicators.

The share of “others” is increasing – professional experience, level, position

The perpetual arrival of juniors that has increased over the last couple of years has slowed down now. As a result of this tendency, the number of specialists with one or two years of experience has noticeably increased.

Comparing current indicators with the situation 10 years ago, when almost 50% of IT people could boast no more than two years of experience, today’s 35.5% can be considered a sign of the industry growing up. However, the industry is still full of “fresh blood.”

The changes are mainly connected to the fact that the heyday of the outsourcing period, when the developer was an archetypical representative of Belarusian IT, has already passed. With the expansion of product companies, including game development studios, the need for specialists from related areas has grown and the industry has begun to absorb them actively.

Year after year, the age of beginners is rising. Indeed, the majority of juniors are graduates and undergraduates of specialized universities, but they are increasingly “diluted” by non-technical beginners aged 30+. Among them can be found not only heroes from articles like “left geodesy to program on PHP”. Quite often these new people are experienced marketing specialists, media workers, and interpreters that come from other areas (like PR, media industry, etc.) and get serious positions from the start.

A modern Belarusian IT specialist is often directly involved in development. However, the number of respondents who consider themselves to be developers has decreased. This is not only the result of increased activity of “others”, but also the result of the office workers’ maturity. This is an indicator of industry transformation. The standard model of the company is moving away from what was common 10 years ago – a sales director and 38 Java developers.

At the same time, the number of team leads continues to decrease. This means that development teams, as well as projects themselves, are being enlarged.

The number of female developers has increased significantly – by almost a quarter compared with previous years. However, only every tenth developer is female. The picture is radically different in related fields – there are 1.5 times more female analysts than male (but here we should take into consideration the free interpretation of this position in different companies).

It is noteworthy that the average age of the Belarusian IT specialist is the same for a number of different of positions. There is a high probability that a manager, a team lead and a developer would all walk in jeans of the same cut.

Fewer specialists from BSUIR and more humanity specialists – Education

The smooth transformation of the industry can be noted from the analysis of statistics on education.

The core of the staff is still being provided by three Minsk universities – BSUIR, BSU and BNTU. But their share is decreasing in favor of others. Graduates of Minsk State Economic University and Minsk State Linguistic University are being represented in IT offices more often than before.

A female graduate of Faculty of Computer Systems and Networks is still a semi-mythical character. However, in general, the gender situation among technical faculties is changing. There are more females among enrollees, and those who have already graduated are returning to the industry more actively.

Crawling “others” can win positions here as well. The system of positions in various companies is beginning to actively branch out and replicate. The number of “simple developers” is decreasing in comparison with the amount of BSUIR graduates. More and more specialists are receiving more complicated tasks and/or acquiring related skills.