Building the future of IT education
It is predicted that in 10 years the Russian economy will require two million IT specialists: developers, analysts, database administrators, product managers, etc. However, many experts point out that the IT market is over-saturated by freelancers who have no formal IT education and experience. Therefore, there is a pressing need for specialists with fundamental education and applied experience.
One challenge is the quality of modern education: This problem cannot be solved quickly. “It won’t be possible just to increase the number of technical faculties and students enrolled in them. First, not all large technical universities are focused on the training of specialists oriented on the development in the business environment. To this day, students are still being taught only C ++ and Delphi, while the market demands Go, Java / Spring, Scala, Python / Big Data qualified specialists,” noted Ksenia Ivanova, Senior IT Practice Consultant at ANCOR Holding. As such, it is crucial to review university programs and get large IT companies involved – this is already starting to happen.
Russian IT giants Mail.Ru Group and Yandex have already launched educational projects. Major fintech players, such as Alfa-Bank, Tinkoff, and others, are catching on too. Like these companies, Compass Plus has also launched its own educational project - a Private Educational Institution called ‘Information Technology for Finance’.
Open Programming School
The program starts early. At Compass Plus Open Programming School, ninth and eleventh grades learn programming languages and the basics of project management. Further down the line, successful pupils are enrolled in higher education programs.
Two of the largest technical universities in the Chelyabinsk Region of Russia have already joined Compass Plus’ educational project. Magnitogorsk State Technical University included an overview of Compass Plus software products in its standard IT course, while students from South Ural State University carry out research projects related to Compass Plus work as part of their course.
Another important stage of training future IT stars focuses on giving students relevant experience. First-year students join the company as interns. Working on actual projects helps them not only gain relevant knowledge, but also to plunge into the real life of the professional community. Every day students spend time in the workplace, facing real challenges.
“Many trainees showed progress and motivation in the second year. By this time they will have been used to the professional environment to start actively growing,” said Dmitry Safonov, Head of Technological Platforms Division at Compass Plus.
The project is growing every year. Compass Plus Open Programming School has recruited an average of 20 students annually since 2012. In 2017, 120 applications were submitted, 62 pupils were enrolled. In 2018/2019, 300+ high school students expressed their desire to join, almost half of them were accepted in the Programming School after a test task.
One of the most successful program participants is Anastasia Kameneva, who graduated in 2015. She has made a significant contribution to the development of the MobiCash application for Windows 10. Nikolay Popov, who completed the training course a year earlier, has also established himself to be a successful student, participating in the development of the RadixWare platform. Denis Markov works on the integration of inter-host services and the development of clearing interfaces for TranzAxis. This is just the beginning. The highly qualified graduates have lots of opportunities ahead, with particularly talented ones having a chance to gain a master's degree at Russian or European universities.
Another focus of Compass Plus’ educational program is IT education for women. Male dominance in IT is typical for many companies and, according to a survey by CNews, just 18% of Kaspersky Lab IT employees are female, 25% of Yandex Development and Operation departments are women, and in ABBYY, almost half of the employees involved in product development are women. Compass Plus has approximately the same ratio - 41% of female staff members work in Research and Development Department.
“According to the most optimistic scenario, if women participated in economic processes equally with men, this would increase global GDP by 26%,” said Anna Nesterova, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Global Rus Trade, Head of the Russian Working Group of Digital Economy at BRICS Business Council.
In the US, the situation of women in IT doesn’t differ a lot from the Russian, which inspires some companies to design special programs to support young women in education. Microsoft Research has a program to involve women in technical training, which was launched to tackle a shortage of technical specialists, but this is not the only reason.
“Who is the best at coding, women or men? It is a big question. The error-free coding is often more important than the speed at which the task will be completed. It is rather difficult to compete with the accuracy and honesty of womankind,” said Professor Mikhail Yakobovsky, Head of Computing Systems and Networks software at Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics.
There are special projects to attract women in IT in many countries, such as a Microsoft Research program launched to involve women in technical training and tackle a shortage of technical specialists, as well as project ‘Made With Code’ launched by Google with support from MIT. It’s goal is to show schoolgirls programming.
The ‘Girls Solve’ pilot project, designed with international experiences in mind and to improve digital literacy, has started in several regions of Russia and aims to teach girls to create presentations, websites and lead SMM. The goal of the project is to show them that technical knowledge can offer huge career opportunities.
Compass Plus has recently completed the IT4EVA project, aimed at attracting women to web programming and mobile development. IT4EVA has several objectives. One of them is to grow potential employees, but in addition, Compass Plus decided to prove that, despite some stereotypes, there are many women who have the skills and necessary attributes to work in IT. Women who have got a technical degree and wish to change their career path were involved in the project. Selected applicants underwent an intensive three-month course and, after final testing, 55% of them received job offers from Compass Plus. They joined the project team working on the mobile and web development of Compass Plus MobiCash payment application.
IT4EVA was successfully completed, and the educational project is gaining momentum, but the company is not going to stop here. If you are interested in this experience, Compass Plus is waiting to hear from you!