Magazine
14:08 27 September 2022
Post by: ANNA RZHEVKINA

POLISH IT SECTOR CONQUERS GLOBAL MARKETS

Once known as a cost-attractive location for basic IT services, Poland has outgrown the role of a basic service provider and today creates products that conquer the world’s markets.

POLISH IT SECTOR CONQUERS GLOBAL MARKETS
BY ANNA RZHEVKINA

Poland is ranked second among the most competitive IT sectors in Central and Eastern Europe, right after Estonia and ahead of Czechia, a report Future of IT by Emerging Europe revealed. The ranking looks into IT infrastructure, available talent, economic impact, business environment, and room for potential growth.

“Poland has shot past the emerging market category and is now playing side by side with the world’s heavyweights,” the report notes. In Poland, there are around 50,000 software companies, and the sector is further evolving amid the ever-growing demand for IT services. The IT industry constitutes about 8% of the Polish GDP, employing over 430,000 people, Polish Investment and Trade Agency estimated.

There are dozens of universities, offering computer science education all over the country: in Warsaw, Gdańsk, Kraków, Wrocław, and smaller cities. In total, about 86,000 students are enrolled in IT programs, and about 11,000 new specialists graduate per year.

Poland stands out with its strong start-up scene and powerful gaming industries. There are 400 development studios employing 10,000 people and generating 470 million euros of revenue. Polish companies developed games popular among players from all over the globe, such as the Witcher and This War of Mine.

In the second quarter alone, Poland saw a 76% increase in start-up venture funding, with investment value totaling PLN 916 million, a report by PFR Ventures and Inovo Venture Partners revealed. The top deals were PLN 540 million for spacetech start-up ICEYE, PLN 170 million for a tech company to fight financial crimes Silent Eight, and PLN 109 million for a customer service platform Tidio. The average transaction value increased to PLN 9.9 million from PLN 7.9 million a year ago.

GLOBAL TECH PLAYERS HEAVILY INVEST IN POLAND

In addition, Poland is ranked by Future of IT as a top Emerging Europe destination for information technology outsourcing (ITO) followed by Romania and Czechia. Agnieszka Belowska Gosławska, Vice President for Technology at the Association of Business Service Leaders notes that IT services account for 45.1% of all business services provided in Poland.

In March, Google announced an investment of about PLN 2.7 billion on a new office complex in Poland, it is the largest ever single office transaction in all of East-Central Europe. This was not the first big investment of the U.S. tech giant in Poland. Last year, Google launched its Europe's largest cloud technology development center in Warsaw. Its rival Microsoft in 2020 also announced that it would develop a data center in Poland as part of a $1 billion investment plan in the country.

On top of that, Poland is among Intel’s destinations to develop its most advanced technology. In March, the company announced plans to spend 33 billion euros to expand its European semiconductor ecosystem across France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, and Spain. Under the program, Intel will increase its lab space by 50% in Gdansk by 2023, with international players, expanding their presence in Poland, the competition or qualified specialists is fierce.

Gosławska from ABSL notes that in the labor market, there is an increased demand for skills primarily related to process automation, cloud solutions, and big data analytics. However, as Poland moves from the role of follower to that of an innovator, core competencies are no longer enough. “The needs of the market have changed. Today's reality demands much more from an IT professional than knowledge of one or two programming languages. We are looking for people who can manage the process and maintain the relationship with the customer,” she said. Managers of modern business service centers in Poland name among the key skills they look for competencies in predictive analytics (56.1%), tech-savviness (46.3%), and leadership skills (43.9%). Linguistic competencies (42.1%), a dominant factor a decade ago, only came in fourth. 

The complexity of services provided in Poland is systematically increasing. There is a clear trend towards a more significant role of complex processes generating higher added value, Gosławska said. For the first time, the share of highly specialized knowledge-based services, which include IT services, exceeded 50% of all services performed in centers located in Poland, she noted.

WORK IN POLAND, EARN IN EURO

ManpowerGroup's "Talent Shortage" report shows that 64% of companies in IT sector are experiencing difficulties in finding employees with the right skills. “Polish employers are no longer competing only locally for employees – foreign companies have also joined the competition for domestic specialists,” Justyna Mazur, business line leader responsible for IT recruitment at Experis told Warsaw Business Journal. “There is currently a lot of salary pressure in the IT market.

Salary increases remain one of the key motivators for job changes in this sector,” she said. Mazur expects that the shortage of IT professionals will continue to increase, which will lead to higher financial expectations and higher prices for IT service providers. Salaries of IT specialists jumped by about a third in a year, and with a gross salary of PLN 18,843 they are – apart from managers – the best-paid employees in Poland, recruitment company Antal calculated. Monika Kiliańska, Team Manager IT Services at Antal, notes that the IT industry is in need of experienced professionals, but – due to the lack of such – is reaching out to candidates who have switched to IT or are beginning to gain their first professional experience in this area.

ABSL’s report shows that it is now on average four times more difficult to hire developers and data science professionals than in the same period in 2021. As a result, 85% of the sector’s companies in Poland are considering looking for employees located outside their city of operations, while nearly 54% are looking outside Poland. Two years ago, the Polish government launched a program called Poland.Business Harbour to support Belarusian companies and IT specialists to relocate to Poland. Last year, the scheme, which offers fast immigration procedures to ICT experts and their family members, was extended to include Ukraine,  Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, and Russia. To attract qualified specialists, close to 90% of companies in Poland allow IT professionals to work remotely.

The trend is especially noticeable in regional cities such as Lublin, Bydgoszcz, Kielce, Toruń, Rzeszów, and Białystok, Belowska Gosławska says.


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