Despite eight months of war, the Ukrainian IT industry remains open for business. Indeed, it is one of the only sectors in Ukraine to register growth, and with a resilient, engaged and very tech-savvy workforce, it is ready and willing to work hand in hand with businesses. British technologies to meet collective digital challenges.
This was the message delivered at an event organized by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT and the IT Ukraine Association, whose leaders signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in London in the presence of the Ukrainian Ambassador. in the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, a skilled computer scientist turned diplomat who founded one of his country’s first commercial Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the 1990s.
BCS General Manager Rashik Parmar said: “This is a very important moment in the partnership between BCS and the IT Ukraine Association, not because we are signing a memorandum of understanding, but [in terms of] the opportunity that we are going to try to tackle together.
Parmar said millions of UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are crying out for IT expertise to solve some of the big challenges facing business leaders, such as growing automation, IT skills shortages and the existential need to decarbonize quickly to avoid the worst impacts of climate collapse.
“Partnering with Ukraine can give these companies access to affordable IT, connecting Ukrainian and UK technicians to share their expertise, access technical talent in a way that was not possible before, but more importantly to bring professionalism to a level that it wasn’t before,” Parmar said.
Konstantin Vasyuk, Executive Director of IT Ukraine Association, said: “Over the past 25 years, Ukraine’s tech sector has made leaps and bounds, starting almost from scratch.
“We employ 300,000 people, a global tech powerhouse with strong educational foundations and one of the largest tech talent pools in Europe. Every year, 30,000 technology specialists graduate from Ukrainian universities, and the quality of the Ukrainian IT industry is reflected in global rankings – we are the number one outsourcing destination in Central and Eastern Europe.
“Despite the war, we continue to work and grow – our businesses are resilient and strong.”
Vasyuk said the war had brought many challenges and risks that could not be ignored, with the initial focus on rescuing and relocating people from parts of Ukraine that were under relentless Russian bombardment. then to counter existing customer concerns due to a lack of information, Russian propaganda and business disruption.
Ukrainian IT companies were able to weather the initial phase of the fighting partly thanks to the flexible remote working measures that many had implemented during Covid-19, but also to the thorough business continuity plans developed over years of threats and of Russian destabilization attempts. . Support from abroad has also been invaluable.
According to figures compiled by the IT Ukraine Association, Ukrainian tech companies maintained 96% of their export volumes in March 2022 and over the year saw collective growth of 13%, with 84% retaining more 90% of their existing contracts. .
Vasyuk said the war has helped many Ukrainian IT companies to go global, diversify for resilience, adopt popular flexible working models, and increase their expertise in niche sectors, especially around IT. cybersecurity, where Ukraine has years of experience. frontline experience and military and automation technology.
Some 45% of Ukrainian tech companies have relocated to some extent, with 42% partially outsourcing from Ukraine – the most popular destinations in Europe being Poland, Romania, Spain, Bulgaria and Portugal.
But around 3% of Ukrainian IT professionals now work from the UK and Alexandra Govorukha, head of global affairs at Sigma Software Group, headquartered in Kharkiv, is just one of many Ukrainian workers in computers who have found refuge here.
Govorukha was on a business trip outside Ukraine when the Russian invasion began on February 24 and eventually arrived in Britain because she had worked here in the past.
“We moved almost all of our people to the western part of Ukraine and to Europe, Canada and the United States,” she said. “Our specialists were working from bomb shelters, from their cars as they moved their families and pets.
“For me, it’s not heroism, it’s part of our DNA and our business approach. We are responsible partners and we just did what we had to do. It was our job. It helped us stay sane during those days because at least we had something stable and something we were sure of.
Sigma himself had worked hard to establish links between the UK and Ukraine even before Russia launched its genocidal war. Working with the Ukrainian Embassy in London, he led the Ukrainian pavilion at London Tech Week in 2019, last year he helped organize a major Ukrainian trade mission to the UK, and during the week -end from October 21 to 23, it organizes the pan-European Hack for Peace hackathon, in search of innovative solutions and tools to face the risks of war.
“I believe in connecting businesses, organizations and people, and building reputation and trust,” Govorukha said. “Some say MoUs aren’t serious, but I think such friendships and partnerships can lead to something bigger and help us establish new levels of communication between countries.”