When personnel shortage in IT going to end

And why the companies that originally specialized not in this filed are recruiting digital specialists en masse

When personnel shortage in IT going to end Photo: kpfu.ru

Maria Golyandrina, the vice president for personnel management at MTS, told in the interview with Realnoe Vremya about the personnel shortage in the digital sphere, why telecommunications companies are opening thousands of IT vacancies, why a university degree is not very important when hiring, and what trends will come in this area to replace machine learning and big data.

Why telecom needs IT specialists

Maria, why are large companies that initially did not belong to the field of development — for example, telecoms — developing the IT direction?

It is because the product that is demanded by the end consumer is changing. If you, as a customer, have the main demand in the area of digital products — then we should change and produce this product for you. If before the telecom business was a growing innovative industry, now it is already familiar as a service and is used mainly to access other services, digital ones. These are messengers, financial services, applications for watching movies, games, and things like that.

Communication itself has ceased to be a separate service — now it is a guide leading to something more distant. Therefore, we want to follow the client and move with him to those services that are interesting to him. And they are all digital.

Maria Golyandrina, the vice president for personnel management at MTS
The telecom platform is colossal, despite the fact that the basic market has long matured and it is difficult to come up with some revolutionary things. The future belongs to new digital products that can capture people's minds and hearts, and we are introducing them

Why do digital professionals choose to work for you?

Now the spheres are becoming very blurred, there is an integration of different sectors of the economy. For example, when banks began to develop mobile applications, the fintech sector was formed at the junction of finance and mobile technologies. And there are many such examples. At the same time, specialists go to specific tasks, not to any particular industry. And the main drivers in tasks are their scale and uniqueness.

The telecom platform is colossal, despite the fact that the basic market has long matured and it is difficult to come up with some revolutionary things. The future belongs to new digital products that can capture people's minds and hearts, and we are introducing them. For this people come to us. We are chosen because something large-scale and interesting can be done here, people see this as a great challenge.

What kind of specialists do you need now, what tasks do you offer them?

Now we employ more than 1,000 IT specialists a year and we have a lot of tasks. For example, the work with big data, there are many questions the answers to which are interesting to look for. We are building a very strong competency in machine learning and Data Science. Given that the main business is very rich in a huge array of data about subscribers, of course, we need to look for some new values here. But this does not negate the level and interest of tasks in other areas, in which we are actively developing — fintech, artificial intelligence, cloud storage, the Internet of Things and many others.

In short, no matter what your specialization is in IT, MTS has tasks for every taste and scale. Of course, we mainly focus on development. But in every project, you cannot do without a good architect and without a specialist in UX/UI.

Personnel shortage is going to end in 5 years

Is there really a personnel shortage in the field of digital technologies, isn’t there an excessive hype around this topic?

Indeed, there is a problem, there are a lot of vacancies and it is problematic to close them all at once. There is no niche in IT now in which there would be no high competition among employers. And the experts themselves also understand this, which makes a certain specificity in the recruitment process.

How long do you think it should take for the situation to change?

I think that in five years the issue will cease to be so urgent, and the market will be saturated. We see that now more and more young people have understood the trend and consciously choose the IT profession, invest in obtaining knowledge in it at the start. The number of qualified candidates will grow. The companies themselves are also now raising specialists, and soon they will reach the plateau of efficiency. Everything will come to balance.

Photo: itpark-kazan.ru
We see that many technical universities are increasing flows in their departments, and some non-core educational institutions are creating new departments and are also beginning to train specialists that the market lacks. This is a good trend because today universities need to produce two and a half times more specialists to close the personnel deficit

Now you need to learn all your life

What can you say about the quality of training IT specialists in universities, whether universities help to solve your recruiting tasks?

Universities provide a good fundamental basis. But every company wants to get not only the foundation, but a ready-made specialist. We respect the knowledge that students have, but we have to invest a lot to grow a ready professional. This is how many companies work: they organize training programmes and events. They provide knowledge that can be quickly mastered: in our experience, it takes about six months to prepare a good specialist within the company.

We see that many technical universities are increasing flows in their departments, and some non-core educational institutions are creating new departments and are also beginning to train specialists that the market lacks. This is a good trend because today universities need to produce two and a half times more specialists to close the personnel deficit. On the other hand, much more people can learn in a short basic education — in specific training and courses. And then they can start from some initial positions — if their type of thinking meets the requirements.

The general trend: today it is more important what you know how to do, not what is written in your diploma. If you can do it — you're in the team, no matter what you have behind you. We never reject a candidate just because he has the wrong education.

Photo: Maksim Platonov
At MTS, we also put high hopes for retraining programmes. We brought this task to the hackathon Digital Breakthrough, and it was chosen by a large number of participating teams. We are looking for an opportunity to retrain people to modern professions

What ways do you see to solve the problem of personnel shortage?

The way out is to restructure the hiring structure so as to hire mainly beginner-level professionals and invest in their training. Such specialist initially has low salary expectations, but the desire to grow is high. Therefore, we build effective and diverse training programmes on internal educational platforms. With the right infrastructure, it works.

That is, does that mean that the best in the HR market feel those companies that have organized effective training?

Yes. The proper selection at the entry and additional training are two main criteria.

At MTS, we also put high hopes for retraining programmes. We brought this task to the hackathon Digital Breakthrough, and it was chosen by a large number of participating teams. We are looking for an opportunity to retrain people to modern professions. Many people understand that they will not be in demand tomorrow, they need to help master a new speciality and then reorient them to new tasks. I think that due to retraining, a certain part of the problems with the deficit in IT personnel will also be removed.

But this has been the trend of the last decade — the days when a person in his youth acquires a speciality and lives on it for the rest of his life are going away?

Yes, now there is no such thing in many fields. Micro-training comes to the fore, you are constantly in the process of learning and development. New technologies and innovative solutions are coming very quickly. To be in demand, a specialist has to study always.

The specialists in machine learning and big data are in short supply today. Can you try to predict who will be in explosive demand in the coming years?

The need for personnel depends on technology change-over. When we learn how to process data and build models, there will arise the issue of the relationship between people and machines. Therefore, I think that the next point of great demand will be the specialists who make human interfaces and build relationships between human and artificial intelligence. For example, we will definitely soon need lawyers of a special profile who will build a system of regulation in this area and work with it. Here again, we see the interpenetration of disciplines: IT and Humanities.

Photo: innopolis.com
We have been developing a large cluster in Innopolis for already 2 years. An excellent team with a high level of qualification of specialists has formed there. Both non-resident employees and those who have been trained in Kazan work in this cluster. There are big important tasks here and serious competencies are needed

Tatarstan is a strong IT cluster

Why did you decide to participate in Digital Breakthrough, what opportunities do you see here?

This is an interesting opportunity for both companies and specialists — to show themselves, to be in the current context, to see what is happening. And this is a very correct initiative when at the federal level young professionals are supported and given the opportunity to meet with those who are interested in them. It turns out to be a meeting place for the best minds and those who are ready to provide these people with a bright future in terms of opportunities, careers and implementation.

How are things going in your IT cluster in Tatarstan?

We have been developing a large cluster in Innopolis for already 2 years. An excellent team with a high level of qualification of specialists has formed there. Both non-resident employees and those who have been trained in Kazan work in this cluster. There are big important tasks here and serious competencies are needed.

In general, I would like to note that Kazan and Tatarstan are a very strong cluster in the field of IT competencies. And we are going to increase our presence there and offer jobs for specialists in the digital sphere.

By Lyudmila Gubaeva
Tatarstan