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The secret sauce of Eastern European software engineering talent

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/TechnoVectors)

It’s no secret that the current climate around attracting and retaining tech talent is nothing short of extremely difficult. As organisations of all sizes and verticals enter the fray to create businesses built around the software solutions they provide, finding top-tier talent has become an increasingly difficult task. But with growing customer expectations and increasingly complex and sophisticated technology, having these types of skilled workers is more important than ever. Which is why organisations like Exadel have turned their eyes abroad to find the technical talent necessary to create the innovations of tomorrow.

We aren’t alone. Just in the past few weeks, 212 — a top global venture capital group — has invested $34 million in Turkish and Eastern European startups. According to a recent article in TechCrunch, 212 was looking to make a big move to invest in business-to-business software-as-a-service startups. Furthermore, the group was looking to invest in companies that were not just ready to sell internationally but are already selling. Their research led them to several Eastern European organisations that are poised to make big waves in tech.

Additionally, the same article points out that there are 15 investment firms in Turkey focusing solely on technology companies. Turkey, along with other Eastern European countries, are seeing a massive boom in digital and software technology companies, and the corresponding talent and investment that follows closely behind.

A recent report issued by a consortium of investment firms (AVentures Capital, Aventis Capital, and Capital Times), and IT service provider Intellias, helped shed some light on the changing climate that is the European tech talent pool. The report, which focused specifically on Belarus, Poland, Romania and Ukraine found that these countries were suddenly seeing “a rapidly growing, highly competitive, and attractive source of talent for the global IT industry.”

While this surge in Eastern European talent is driving increased innovation from local companies taking advantage of the rich talent pool, as well as an influx of funds from investors both regionally and abroad, there has also been a massive increase in the number of U.S. and Western Europe-based organisations turning their eyes East to find the talent necessary to help fuel their development pipelines.

The advantage of cultural traits

There are many reasons behind this sudden investment from western organisations looking for tech help. Part of the equation is simply supply and demand. As organisations look to fast track their digital transformation efforts to remain globally competitive, there are simply not enough U.S. and Western European developers to go around.

However, this mathematical solution only tells part of the story. While it is true that in recent years the United States has developed an increased focus on STEM education, this priority on the technical fields has been a focus in many other countries for years, if not decades. Families in Eastern European countries place an increased emphasis on technology and mathematical studies. There is a distinct focus on the utilitarian nature of these pursuits -- studying the tech fields lead to better and more available jobs.

The overall educational climate in Eastern Europe also lends itself well to creating developer talent. While the United States and other western countries have educational systems with broad focuses on a multi-disciplinary education, countries in other parts of the world are more likely to be skills focused. Much like trade schools for learning skilled labor talents like carpentry and welding, many of the developers in Eastern Europe attended boot camps and technical schools that focus solely on teaching relevant coding skills. While it is true that an education complete with romance literature courses makes for a well-rounded student, it doesn’t always make for a better coder. The Eastern European emphasis on this sort of “vocational” training means that developers from these regions can not only become proficient at development more quickly (given their more specific focus on the relevant skills) but are also well-trained at the type of learning that makes continuing education a more natural path of learning. This allows these workers to keep their tech skills sharp and adapt more quickly to changing tech requirements and skills.

In addition to the pure technical skills afforded by an educational emphasis on scientific pursuits, there is also a distinct cultural trait that makes Eastern Europeans particularly well-suited for developer roles. Eastern European tech talent — and Eastern Europeans in general — have a fortitude and tenacious nature that make great traits for developers. They take full ownership of software engineering projects and, as such, take responsibility and care for each and every line of code. The result is a well-educated, hard-working employee with a penchant for tech — you can see how that aligns well with the traits necessary for a great developer or IT professional.

While there are many extremely talented and hardworking developers and technical experts in the United States, Western Europe, and elsewhere, there is no denying that Eastern Europe has recently become a hotbed of technical resources. Fuelled by an educational focus on technological pursuits, a cultural emphasis on hard work, and an investor-rich business climate, Eastern European tech is thriving and poised for years of success.

Lev Shur, President of Exadel Solutions, Exadel
Image source: Shutterstock/TechnoVectors