Sa, 2.12.2023

Estonian IT sector will need thousands more workers in a few years - head of Skype

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Graduates of Estonian universities will not cover the needs of the Estonian information technology sector already in a couple of years' time and thousands of staff will have to be found somewhere, head of Skype's Estonian unit Tiit Paananen said in an interview with BNS.

"The number of graduates from Estonian universities will start declining in a few years because fewer students enroll," Paananen said. "A survey taken a couple of years ago meanwhile showed that a thousand job vacancies were available immediately and if the companies knew [about the availability of workers] six or nine months in advance another thousand jobs would become available, in other words, there are two thousand jobs on the hiring horizon in the sector right away."

According to Paananen, the Estonian ICT sector has big ambitions - instead of the current 17,000 employees it could employ at least 34,000 people already in 2020. The number of people partly connected with the sector could even grow to as many as 50,000.

"They include for instance lawyers dealing with intellectual property and privacy problems, finance specialists writing specifications for financial software, and so on," he explained.

As a result, the share of the ICT sector would double to 10 percent of Estonia's gross domestic product which Paananen said would make it the leading sector of the Estonian economy. "All jobs in the sector would have a high value added and productivity. As we know, Estonia's productivity indicators are not very high," he added.

"We could look at the IT sector as a T shaped model where the horizontal bar represents people working for other sectors and the vertical bar those who deal with IT in depth, such as Skype or ZeroTurnaround or new start-ups, this is where new value is created rather than implementation dealt with. In the horizontal part, too, quite good projects have been done in Estonia - in the energy sector, health care, public systems," Paananen said.

"At present both parts can grow thicker - the horizontal part, when businesses start using more IT solutions in their processes and solve more complicated tasks with their help. The vertical part will grow as new businesses similar to Skype emerge," Paananen said.