With the economy growing and unemployment at record lows, many companies have no choice but to become more flexible in hiring. That includes setting up training courses and looking for potential employees abroad to fill IT jobs. At the same time, many Czechs are taking re-qualification courses in order to enter a sector that offers a wide variety of well-paid jobs.
The number of those employed in IT positions in the country has been growing steadily since 2004. Only last year it went up by 20,000 to a total of 206,000 IT workers, according to a recent in-depth analysis by the daily Hospodářské Noviny, which looked into Eurostat data, as well as government statistics and online sources.
According to Jitka Součková from the Czech branch of the recruiting agency Grafton, there are currently tens of thousands of IT specialist job opportunities. “We gauge the number at around 30,000 vacant IT positions. There are also other estimates, which place the number as high as 40,000, or even 50,000. However, we believe that 30,000 is more realistic.”
Many Czechs have noticed this disparity and are eager to get a piece of the IT job pie, which offers positions with above average salaries and seemingly good prospects for the future.
One of the ways to get in is through so called re-qualification courses, which can range in length from three months to multiple years and many are on offer across the country.
Among the organisations that offer such courses is Czechitas, a non-profit which focuses on diversifying the IT sector by focusing on educating women programming skills. Since 2014 Czechitas has taught more than 12,000 students through its courses and workshops.
The organisation’s CEO and co-founder Dita Přikrylová says that the career transit success rate of Czechitas students after taking the course is around 75 percent. However, getting into its courses is sometimes as tough as getting a job.
“We have around 7,000 registrations each year but only around a half become students. There are many reasons why. We want people who are motivated to do such a change and know why they are learning.”
Requalification courses are helpful, but for specific jobs IT, such as programming and software development, they require a long-term time investment, says Grafton’s Jitka Součková. "Becoming a developer requires a certain process and knowledge. A person doesn’t receive that knowledge through a simple requalification course or though some sort of job training. A lot is said about this, but when it comes to learning new skills in software development or programming that requires one or two years of learning.”
Another alternative, which has been a long-term practice for Czech companies, is hiring from abroad. In this respect, Grafton search for potential employees especially in southern EU member states with high youth unemployment, countries such as Greece, Spain and Italy.
If companies are willing to go through with the process of hiring outside the EU, South America and Eastern European states such as Ukraine offer other potential IT specialists.