The year of 2020 brought changes in doing business for nearly all industries, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and globally alike. However, certain industries, such as ICT sector, have harnessed these changes in technological investment, infrastructure development and strategic planning as an opportunity for further development. There is a growing need for technological solutions and tools, and the ICT sector already has practices of teleworking in place, adapting swiftly to the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The ICT sector, however, lacks a quality workforce.

The Analysis of Software Industry Skills Requirements was presented on Tuesday in Sarajevo, developed in cooperation with Bit Alliance in 2019, as part of Economic Governance for Growth (EGG) project, funded by the Government of the Kingdom of Norway and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in BiH. According to the data collected in this study, of an average of 926 vacant posts for IT specialists annually, 388 cannot be filled. In most cases, the reason is the lack of candidates with the appropriate knowledge and skills.

“We have already taken the first test steps to bridge the gap between the education sector and the labour market. With the help of our partners from the Norwegian Embassy and in cooperation with partners from the public and private sectors, we developed a plan that includes education reform based on the needs of companies and the community as a whole, as well as enabling unhindered growth and development of software industry. Some of these reforms are likely to meet fierce resistance, but regardless, we must work for the interest of the wider community,” said Sukhrob Khoshmukhamedov, UNDP Deputy Resident Coordinator in BiH.

“Public educational institutions have yet to catch up with economic trends, and the supply of ICT professionals is insufficient to meet the growing demand. Information technologies should therefore be represented at all levels of education and accessible to all. It is encouraging that authorities across the country are starting to take steps to enable the industry to fulfil its potential,” added H.E. Olav Reinersten, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway to BiH.

Although most IT companies conduct continuous employee training, 78.1% of surveyed employees believe that professional IT education should be modernised in that it should be open to new teaching methodologies. Measures to overcome the current situation include revising enrolment policies and adjusting to the needs of the software industry, then establishing specialist secondary schools in computer science and IT, further strengthening of retraining and additional training measures for IT occupations through employment offices, and improving IT education at primary schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bit Alliance, an umbrella association in software industry, believes that IT industry should be declared strategic for the development of the economy in BiH next year at the latest.

“The study on which UNDP and Bit Alliance worked together in the past period is an extremely important one, not just for IT industry but the entire BiH economy, thanks to its realistic overview of the current situation, but also the exceptional potential that our industry has in the context of BiH’s future prosperity. In order to generate strategic value for all participants in the significant chain that the IT industry is, it was important for us to showcase realistic indicators on the number of employees, potentials for new jobs, and many other important elements. It is well known that all our activities implemented in line with our IT Manifesto – which according to the Triple Helix concept implies respect for parallel action in the field of legislation, education and economy – are focused on positioning the IT industry as a strategic one. Being the fastest growing and most prosperous industry in BiH, it definitely deserves such positioning,” said Mrs. Tatjana Vučić, Executive Director of Bit Alliance.

The Analysis of Software Industry Skills Requirements in 2019 also highlights the fact that employment in the ICT sector in the previous seven years grew up to 10 times faster than other industries, and that employees in this sector have a 71.77 % higher salary compared to average net salary at the level of BiH.

At the same time, the growth of the ICT sector has an impact on economic progress in other areas – according to the Analysis, 100 new jobs created in ICT sector generate additional 157 jobs in the rest of the economy. However, without strategic action and the response of the education system to the challenges of the sector, ICT companies will be forced to invest additional resources in staff training or to seek qualified workforce outside of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Analysis of Software Industry Skills Requirements available on the following link.

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