Despite a Russian invasion that has been going on for more than four months, the Ukrainian IT sector is doing surprisingly well. How is it possible? Most IT companies and specialists continue their activities. “Although sometimes it’s a challenge to stay productive.”
According to the National Bank of Ukraine, the country’s IT sector recorded $ 2 billion in exports in the first quarter of 2022, more than a quarter more than in the same period in 2021. In addition, the vast majority of IT companies in Ukraine reported continuing their activities despite of the violence in the country.
“One in five Fortune 500 companies, including Microsoft, Google, Samsung and Oracle, use Ukrainian IT services”
How can the Ukrainian IT sector survive? To begin with, the number of IT companies (and specialists) in the country has grown significantly in recent years and is focused on exports. Prior to the raid, Ukraine was ranked fifth among the top 25 global technology talents with more than 285,000 employees in the IT sector.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to major changes for companies and their IT professionals. “Some technology experts, mostly men, moved to the front line. But many continue to work, often under harsh conditions. It is sometimes a challenge for many Ukrainians in the IT sector today to remain productive,” says Marta Kravs from Grid Dynamics, which focuses on IT outsourcing from countries like Ukraine. “Many companies have helped their employees move to other countries or to safer cities in western Ukraine, such as Lviv.”
According to IT Ukraine, two percent of Ukrainian IT professionals joined the armed forces, five percent joined the cyber army, but the rest continued to work. “Thanks to the Covid years, IT teams have acquired the skills to work effectively externally,” said IT Ukraine.†
At the same time, many international companies have also offered support to those fleeing the war in Ukraine. India’s largest technology companies such as Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and HCL Technologies, as well as game startups and software-as-a-service companies, have hired Ukrainian engineers who have moved to neighboring countries such as Poland and Hungary, Kravs says.
And the Russian IT people? According to the latest figures from Stack Overflow, the country has almost half a million developers alone. “Russian technology talents flow mainly to Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Armenia, Georgia and the Baltic states,” says Kravs. According to an article in the New York Times, the Armenian government alone estimates that tens of thousands of IT professionals have entered the country, while thousands have also traveled to Georgia.
Many companies, including Cisco, Meta (Facebook), Microsoft, Intel and Netflix, have either completely withdrawn from Russia or severely restricted their activities in Russia. “These shifts in business, coupled with severe economic sanctions and further isolation from the Russian market, are forcing young and well-educated technical professionals to flee the country. Looking elsewhere to live and work.”