The IT sector in Bulgaria
Bulgaria is one of the newest members of the EU family. As it often happens in such situations, since its recent accession in 2007 IT and ICT sectors have grown and thrived rapidly. A recent World Bank global report shows ICT expenditure in Bulgaria rising to 6.5% of GDP.
Bulgaria’s IT sector has seen an average annual increase of 17% since 2007. Among the fastest growing sectors are software development and outsourcing. It has one of the highest added values in Bulgaria’s national economy.
Apart from classic university education in IT and software programming, numerous certification programs exist. The most widely demanded classes in 2012, according to the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce, were Computer Networking, Information Security, IT Governance, ITIL (IT infrastructure library), Business Intelligence, Project Management, Agile, Scrum, etc.
Bulgarian tech company Telerik has its own academy, not unlike Cisco Networking Academy, which is also available in Bulgaria. It proposes classes for children as young as 10 years old. All initiatives are free of charge and are offered in the form of live participation classes, or online education.
There is a strong demand of specialists in the sector. Some of the biggest international companies in the industry are interested in expanding in Bulgaria. SAP Labs, the development unit of the German software giant SAP, which has been established in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia for more than 15 years, announced to hire 100 fresh recruits in 2014.
Other big players, such as C3i who provides technical solutions for pharmacists and medical staff, are also increasing their workforce in one of the newest EU members. C3i’s CEO Joel Morse announced that expansion in Bulgaria is the result of new services being offered to 3 new clients. Another reason according to him is the presence of multilingual and qualified specialists in the IT area. His prognosis is that the labor market can support growth in the industry, but university graduates need to be better educated about opportunities in the outsourcing sector.
Although demand of qualified staff is increasing and potential is clearly visible, recruiters claim that it is more and more difficult to hire in the sector. Among the main problems are lack of experience, of business or academic knowledge. The Bulgarian association of software companies (BASCOM) is appealing for reforms in public education in order to increase the number of software engineers and to increase the quality of university programs. Good news is, that despite these challenges, the average IT specialist in Bulgaria is younger than in other countries, which means that in the course of time the number of experienced personnel will increase gradually.
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