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Ukrainian Talent Proves Resilient

In Ukraine, a country renowned for tech talent, engineers have found ways to keep working despite the war.

Key takeaways

  1. Ukraine has a reputation for producing excellent engineering talent.
  2. Around 85% of Ukrainian developers have managed to keep working full-time, in Ukraine or abroad.
  3. Only 16% of tech companies lost more than 10% of their customers; 52% managed to retain them all.
  4. Overall, the industry has proved resilient and continues to provide talent to the world.

While data regarding the Ukrainian tech scene amid the ongoing war is sparse and subject to fluctuations, a few undeniable facts illustrate the remarkable resilience of the country’s tech industry and its workforce. Despite the upheaval, only a fraction of the tech workforce, approximately 16%, has departed the country. The majority of IT professionals and software developers, more than 70% and 80% respectively, continue to work full-time. In the face of adversity, they have adapted and relocated to comparatively safer regions such as Kyiv and Western Ukraine.

In smaller companies, employing up to 200 staff members, around 20% of specialists have joined the ranks of the army. A notable 5% of IT experts are deeply engaged in the information front, contributing their skills to state cybersecurity and the maintenance of critical infrastructure facilities. Remarkably, there exist companies where nearly all tech specialists are currently serving in cyber forces. These statistics are sourced from a survey of 30 IT companies that collectively employ 34,000 IT professionals, all members of the Association of IT Ukraine.

Ukraine is a substantial source of talent—in 2020, 20% of Fortune 500 companies had remote development teams in Ukraine. According to the IT Ukraine Association, the country exports $6.8 billion of services a year—about 4% of the country’s GDP. With an education system that has long prioritised mathematics and science, Ukraine has proved a tech-talent outsourcing powerhouse. Although neither Kyiv nor Odesa emerged in our study as cities with outlier density for specific skills, both can claim robust all-round tech talent.

Indeed, for some years Ukrainian workers have played important roles in the US and European tech ecosystems. The Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, in particular, has produced impressive numbers of graduates working across Europe. Our research shows that the university contributes significantly to the tech workforce in major cities, including Warsaw, Kraków , Tallinn and Berlin. It has also produced the second-largest number of current female tech grads of any university in Europe—surpassed only by The Open University in the UK. On the whole, Ukraine’s record for gender diversity in tech is relatively good: Ukrainian software developers are 25% female, versus a European average of 16%. In addition, two thriving tech businesses, Grammarly and Gitlab, were founded in the country.

Global employers have scrambled to retain and protect their Ukrainian employees and ensure their safety in these difficult times. There have been coordinated drives to link Ukrainian talent with remote work, providing much-needed security., for example, offers resources to help Ukrainians find work and link them with recruiters., too, has helped war-impacted Ukrainians. Countries like Poland and Lithuania have adapted their visa regulations to allow Ukrainians to set up within their borders.

These are mostly temporary measures, but they’ve been surprisingly successful. The internet is full of stories of tech workers who escaped the horrors of the war and found safe haven and employment outside the country or in domestic safe spaces.

This resilience extends beyond individual workers. Only 2% of Ukrainian IT companies have been forced to shut down due to the war. And only around 16% of Ukrainian tech companies lost more than a tenth of their customers; more than half (52%) managed to retain them all. Overall, in 2022, the country’s IT industry yielded 5.8% more in export revenues than in 2021.

Still, Ukrainian tech practitioners continue to adapt. Approximately 60% of tech employees continue to work within Ukrainian borders, despite being displaced from their homes, while a mere 14% of those displaced have chosen to leave the country opting for safer areas. Central and Eastern European countries, where several cities offer highly amenable conditions for remote work, have proved popular destinations.