HTP to Develop Qualification Standards for IT Sector

26 July 2014

Belarus begins a long and complicated process of creating a national qualifications system. Occupational and qualification standards were developed, which are clear to both the employer and the employee. This will dramatically change the requirements for job seekers and educational programs.

A pilot project was initiated to develop occupational standards in the IT field. It is coordinated by the Hi-Tech Park. A sector council was created together with representatives of the leading IT companies, the Ministry of Labor and the field-oriented universities to determine occupational standards and qualifications framework. Determination of qualifications standards in the IT field is already in demand among the HTP resident-companies.

"At the end of the last year during a meeting with the companies’ directors, we found out that each IT company has its own requirements for the employees’ qualifications which are considerably different from each other. Over the last 15 years, 12 thousand jobs have been created in the HTP and today 4 our companies employ over a thousand people, 14 companies – from 500 to 1,000. Previously, when the companies were small, there was no need for a ranking system. However, if a development department has 200 employees, it is necessary to build up a system of qualifications," said Alexander Martinkevich, Deputy Director of the Hi-Tech Park.

IT specialists have to learn their whole life to improve in their profession and then there is a question – what to learn, what skills are demanded by the employer? Qualifications frameworks will be a guideline for employees, saying where they should move to get a promotion or an offer of a more interesting job.

A foreign employer – and nearly 90% of the HTP products goes abroad – need to understand what professionals are engaged in the project implementation. For example, an employer needs two Senior Developers to be included in the programming team. In Belarus, there is no such a position which causes difficulties in communicating with customers.

In many countries throughout the world, there are qualifications standards approved by the professional community. Belarusian IT companies use the country’s labor legislation and The Classifier of Workers and Employees." There is a list of duties in the classifier but there is no such notion as ’competence’; and the most important thing is not what people are to do but what results must be obtained through these activities. We need a description of the knowledge, skills and competencies that are necessary for a specialist to be able to do this," says Alexander Martinkevich.

The sector council is developing a qualifications framework for the two most popular in the IT sector professions – software developer and tester. According to Alexander Martinkevich, the best global practices are used in developing the Belarusian qualifications system for the IT field.

After receiving a description of qualifications, the universities will have to adjust the educational process, so that graduates would not blame the education system that employers need knowledge and skills different from those they obtained at universities. The observations of the HTP administration show that universities seem willing to make changes to the educational process, they open branches of their departments in IT companies and laboratories of IT companies at their departments. However, the adoption of the national qualifications system for IT will give a clear guidance to the universities on what to teach students.

Kuprevicha, 1/1, 220141, Minsk, Belarus.