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IT-industry in the era of special operation. How the country retains personnel and what comes of it
19 May, 11:40
Technology
IT-industry in the era of special operation. How the country retains personnel and what comes of it
The domestic IT industry is in the turbulence zone. The development of this technological industry is impossible without constant international exchange and open borders.

At the same time, the state set a course for the development of its national product. How to combine the incongruous and not be buried under geopolitics?

Julia Suntsova

During the "second wave" of emigration of IT specialists, 70-100 thousand people could leave Russia, approximately 50-70 thousand employees have already left for the "first wave" after February 24, the head of the Russian Association for Electronic Communications (RAEC) Sergey Plugotarenko shared his calculations at the meeting "Development of the IT industry under sanctions" in the State Duma.

Restraining factors now are expensive air tickets, increased prices for housing abroad and fears that, to put it mildly, no one is waiting for Russians outside.

The Russian Ministry of Digital Development, in an effort to prevent the outflow of specialists, has prepared a package of measures to support the industry.

All IT companies are planned to be exempt from income tax and scheduled inspections for three years (until 2024); employees involved in software development are promised a deferment from military draft. In addition, they want to provide tax preferences to developers of mobile applications and organizations involved in the implementation, installation and testing of domestic products. IT companies will be able to receive preferential loans at a rate not exceeding 3%, and their official employees can apply for preferential mortgages at 5%. Almost 4 billion rubles are allocated in the federal budget to subsidize such preferential loans in the next three years. In 2022 - 750 million rubles, in 2023 - 1.4 billion rubles, in 2024 - 1.8 billion rubles.

The Ministry of Digital Development states that the announced measures will be expanded, officials are doing a lot of work with the industry to form additional targeted support for specific industry segments.

At the same time, in May, at the Moscow Sheremetyevo airport, a public service advertisement of a popular print was noticed with calls to IT people not to leave their native country [our material illustrates]. At the same time, in the airports of Yerevan, Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, advertisements about recruiting programmers in companies from “unfriendly countries” are being played in whole blocks. Judging by the timing of this advertisement (just in time for the planes to land from Russia), the target audience for the commercials is Russian programmers.

The domestic IT industry has fallen into a zone of turbulence. On the one hand, the development of this high-tech industry is impossible without constant and systematic international exchange, open competition and open borders, and global collaboration. On the other hand, the Russian state has outlined a clear course towards the "sovereign perimeter", import substitution. In the creation of "one's own", the so-called. billions of dollars of investments are pouring into the national product.

How are Russian IT companies experiencing these processes and what thoughts are currently occupied by specialists in the field? "NI " talked with representatives of the industry. Several contours of " transformations " are clearly visible.

Foreign representative offices removed entire staffs from the Russian Federation

Firstly, foreign IT companies that worked in Russia before the sanctions evacuated their representative offices by the whole states. Specialists were offered official employment abroad, some were offered the opportunity to leave with their families, foreign work visas (!), which are very difficult or very expensive to obtain on their own, depending on the country. But the main offer is a high standard of living, to which IT people are accustomed.

"Programmers and IT businesses that were tied to foreign markets moved physically and / or legally, opening legal entities and accounts in foreign banks. I see that even our colleagues from small companies based in the regions are still opening new accounts in Armenia, Georgia, and some Asian countries. They do this in order to continue working with foreign clients, not to become isolated within the Russian market. The help they most need now is not state support, which does not play a decisive role for them, but the organization of work, including banking, in foreign jurisdictions. Today, even companies that have remained in Russia, but receive money from foreign markets, are in dire need of this. Foreign exchange earnings for companies operating in Russia help to earn and reinvest in business development. This is extremely relevant against the backdrop of expensive borrowed money, rising costs and the closing “window to Europe”, - says Ivan Fedotov, Director of the Association of Innovative Regions of Russia.

"Traveling to Europe is difficult to detain, as there is money, and global projects, which in Russia now will be less, and a high quality of life. But the popular Armenia and Georgia are losing to Moscow. Talking with colleagues, I hear that some of them are ready to return just because of the weak infrastructure and service", - says Ivan Teltevsky, an expert in digital communications for industrial companies and the public sector.

High-skilled people left, newcomers remained

It was highly qualified personnel that “relocated”, left Russia – seniors, middles, just those who had high hopes in the current situation in Russia. Mostly juniors (newcomers) remain in the country and in state structures in particular - the market of Europe, America and developed Asian countries is oversaturated with such specialists, everyone is hunting for professional heads. Specialists with little work experience and only in domestic companies can hardly provide the desired “digital breakthrough”.

"Demand for seniors around the world remains high. In Russia, they try to keep such employees by all means, including raising salaries. But Russian specialists are also in great demand abroad, first of all, front-end and back-end developers who have received a high-quality education at Moscow State University, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, MEPhI and the Higher School of Economics", - says Andrey Shakhramanyan, General Director of the SODIS Lab Group of Companies.

Keeping a professional in the country by any means is not so easy, if he wants to leave, he will leave, especially for programmers with five to seven years of experience. To keep this in the country, the Russian state must be able to offer "goodies", which no other company in the world can offer.

The chronicle of events after the start of the special operation is shared with NI by the product manager of the VkusVill online sales department Margarita Tuktarova:

  • February-March 2022. Our developer partners from Ukraine, regardless of their position and level, team leads and project managers are fired at lightning speed and end up in Poland, Spain, Uzbekistan, Georgia. No one is hinting at a relocation here, but instinctively we google ourselves - we look at guides on taxes and apartments in Tashkent, Tbilisi, Warsaw, and so on. Percent 30% of employees - on suitcases. The rest is not so easy to blow up - children, schools, parents, acquired real estate and so on. Some colleagues have had their wages reduced by 20%. Foreign customers are afraid of cooperation with our jurisdiction, but the staff is not reduced.
  • April 2022 Some of the managers are returning from holidays abroad. The revision of salaries is frozen until October-November (the DKR has been passed, the level has been raised, but the salary is not). We are acquiring offices in other jurisdictions. They don’t take you to work in other countries, and various options with individual entrepreneurs and paperwork cool down the joy of relocation.
  • May 2022 Services continue to fall off. We've already lost Docker, Gitlab, Amazon Web Services, TeamViewer and whatnot. As long as we keep working. Hiring on the foot.

Under these conditions, what were the benefits for me as an IT specialist? It's nice that there are some support measures. But I and many of my colleagues would exchange them for the normal operation of banks and services without sanctions, shutdowns, unsettled payments and the inability to purchase dollars and euros,” Tuktarova sums up.

Owners of IT companies: the measures taken by state support are not of decisive importance

The economic situation as a whole and the prospects that Russia is ready to give have a much greater influence. Many programmers are not tempted by the very idea of staying here to build a "digital superpower", even though even they are moving from the middle class to "ordinary citizens" with rising prices. Also, IT people are very worried about the loss of access to familiar working tools, the inability to use foreign paid working services, which have no analogues in Russia, problems with the supply of high-quality equipment and licenses. A professional community and a social mission are also one of the main values of workers in this field.

Regarding the announced measures to support the Russian government, the owners of IT companies make the following remarks:

  • Employees reacted to preferential mortgages with minimal interest: professionals with high incomes, as a rule, already have their own housing.
  • Moreover, preferential mortgages have been announced, in fact, the issuance has not yet started, banks are just starting to slowly launch a campaign, while they themselves do not know anything about the conditions, they cannot explain how it will be and when, and they even launch advertising simply “on behalf of the government ".
  • Some media announced the abolition of personal income tax for IT, but it did not come to the approval of the initiative at the level of the law.
  • The deferment from military draft is also not interesting, since most of the engineers in the companies are over 27 years old. For the young, this “army armor” has acquired so many conditions that it has become almost useless. Many come to work immediately after college, that is, without a higher education, many excellent IT specialists have a non-core higher education, so the benefit does not apply to them; and in conditions of a high probability of mobilization, the wording "the final decision is made by the military registration and enlistment office" generally kills this "bonus".

"Some individual initiatives not only do not support, but are really alarming", - says Product Marketing Manager Alexander Seigarov:

For example:

- The Council on the Digital Economy under the Federation Council proposed to the Ministry of Education and Science restore the system of distribution of students of IT-specialties in the military-industrial complex after high school for five years.

- "Concord" proposed to oblige IT specialists get permission from the FSB to leave if they want to work in unfriendly countries.

You look at these "brilliant" ideas and understand two things - there is an outflow of IT specialists, and it is big. And also the fact that, due to not very successful incentive measures to retain specialists, our government seems to be able to switch to repressive measures. This does not inspire confidence and confidence in the future, and is also similar to the Belarusian scenario, when at first they supported and encouraged, and during the well-known events they switched to outright persecution of the IT community.

Small IT companies and start-ups cannot receive preferences

For small IT companies and start-ups, state support measures turn out to be completely ineffective - the conditions that must be met in order to receive benefits are unattainable for enterprises with small turnovers.

"The tax office is not ready to reduce the tax for an IT company if there were less than 7 people in 2021. But the employer often does not need so many employees in the state. In addition, our usual practice is that employees themselves register as self-employed or individual entrepreneurs, pay income taxes for themselves, as they freelance", - comments Rustam Gabbasov, head of the AVTOSLIV.RU online aggregator.

A soft loan for IT companies under the SME.RF program cannot be obtained if the revenue for 2021 was less than 100 million rubles and the growth rate is less than 12%, so small businesses like us are refused.

Developers cannot get a mortgage if their IT companies do not meet these numerous criteria for a company, and also if their own salary is less than 100-150 thousand rubles for reporting periods, depending on the region. Also, many conditions are set for the most purchased property. For example, it is allowed to purchase housing only in new buildings in the amount of 9-18 million rubles, and in case of dismissal from the current job, the preferential mortgage rate is canceled, refinancing cannot be done, etc.

Grants are received, as a rule, by large corporations in narrow areas, or IT companies of the same corporations registered as a separate legal entity. It is almost impossible for a simple startup to receive a grant, since grants are not issued for already working services, only for research and development work.

From all these inconsistencies, the conclusion follows: they help only large companies with large turnovers and revenues. Only they receive benefits, loans and grants. Small enterprises are left to survive at the expense of their own forces and means.

Employer support breaks records

The support of employers is much more effective and closer to reality than the "package" from the Ministry of Digital Development, say the programmers with whom NI spoke.

"The first thing all workers think about in a crisis is maintaining the level and quality of life. Therefore, the first thing employers do now is to raise salaries for developers, encourage them with all sorts of bonuses for their active participation in the fate of the company, and are even ready to issue options to provide employees with additional income and motivate them with value, because now they are not just employees, but co-owners of the business! Many companies also create conditions for IT-specialists under which it would be more comfortable for them to stay in Russia: salary indexation, flexible schedule, provision with everything necessary - powerful modern equipment and software, conditions for career growth are created", - says the founder of the IT recruitment agency HEAAD Danil Ilyin.

The employer has become loyal to the work of an employee from another country, sometimes even consulting and organizational assistance is provided in settling abroad - up to renting coworking spaces there, notes Anton Guberev, senior backend engineer at Avito:

- "We as employers try to keep people somehow. Older employees with social obligations, property, elderly parents remained even after their companies left the Russian market. But here is the general youth trend - to a promising and progressive world..."

- "When the whole world was taken away from a successful class of IT specialists, trying to keep them with a "soft mortgage" and "the military enlistment office will call you last" - what do you think, how tempting is the offer?", - says Mikhail Fillipenko, General Director of Fast-Reports LLC.

The Russian digital sphere lacks about 800-900 thousand IT specialists

Meanwhile, the demand for IT-specialists in the domestic market was high, and became even higher. Many domestic companies, in the face of uncertainty, were also forced to move their offices out of Russia to neighboring countries.

One of the notable trends is that the growth in salaries for developers, which was observed until recently, has stopped. Also, the demand for junior developers has now decreased, because companies need resources and time to train and train such specialists, many of them no longer have them in the current conditions, market participants note. Many companies have stopped recruiting new employees.

"To date, the shortage of IT-specialists is clearly felt, and in all areas. The demand for IT specialists from regional companies has more than doubled in recent months in some areas. We are seeing an increased demand for digital workers both in state corporations and in the private B2B segment. Demand for IT specialists in Russia will be increased from another six months to a year, since the development and optimization of domestic IT products today is a paramount task. At the same time, the Russian digital sphere lacks about 800-900 thousand IT specialists for these purposes", - says Vitaly Arbuzov, founder of INPRO.digital.

"In my opinion, the state is now striving to create a kind of IT park in Russia that would keep specialists in the country, various privileges are offered for this - mainly benefits and salary increases. But more than that, the state, of course, worries that the government and backbone enterprises themselves will be left without good programmers. How to keep IT people in these places, given that private businesses have bigger budgets and bigger projects? In addition, outsourcing was still well developed in Russia - interesting projects and money often came from other countries. State structures against this background are uncompetitive. You can hardly get a good experience here, the projects are primitive, the money is small. The only plus is the work is not dusty. This is where the second problem arises - the civil service and attracts the appropriate personnel - newcomers with little experience work, those who simply were not accepted to other places", - says Citibank software engineer Yevgeny Kozak (who lives in London).

Where will development come from in such conditions? All over the world, however, the situation is similar. In the public sector in the US and England, for example, there are also old projects, legacy code, a lot of bureaucracy, everything is coordinated and done very slowly. How to transform the existing system? This is undoubtedly a serious challenge for the authorities and business. Problems will need to be dealt with by the fire brigade.

- Traveling to Europe is difficult to detain, as there is money, and global projects, which in Russia now will be less, and a high quality of life. But the popular Armenia and Georgia are losing to Moscow. Talking with colleagues, I hear that some of them are ready to return just because of the weak infrastructure and service, - says Ivan Teltevsky, an expert in digital communications for industrial companies and the public sector.