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Tech education in Ukraine: Useful insights for business

With a talent pool of 250K highly-skilled software engineers, Ukraine is considered one of the leading IT hubs in Eastern Europe. Ukraine’s education system focuses intensely on STEM disciplines, and many engineers enter traineeships near the end of their studies, making them seasoned professionals from the onset of their careers.

As qualified programmers are the most valuable asset for any tech business, one wants to get enough educated people who do not need further training. By hiring developers in Ukraine you can expect to work with an adept team that provides top-notch IT services.

13 Facts About Tech Education in Ukraine

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1. Ukraine is recognized as one of the largest education centers in CEE

Ukraine’s vast tech talent pool springs from an extensive network of educational institutions scattered across the country. The nation appears to have a relatively large higher education sector compared to other European states. 

Today, there are 281 universities, academies and institutes, of which 203 are public. With a total population of 41.3M, this amounts to 6.8 HEIs per one million people or 4.9 public HEIs per one million people. 

2. The high-class quality of tech education in Ukraine is known beyond its borders

The quality of tech education in Ukraine is regularly acknowledged in numerous rankings. For example, the recently released EECA University Rankings, featuring 400 of the best universities in emerging Europe and Central Asia, lists 25 higher education institutions from Ukraine. 

Four of those tech schools are represented in the region’s top 100. Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv peaked at the 33rd ranking position. Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute and V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University took up the 66th and 67th places respectively, while Lviv Polytechnic National University came in at 98th

The Times Higher Education World University Ranking, another reputable source, features ten Ukrainian higher education institutions. According to this survey, some of the top technical universities to consider in 2022 include: 

  • Sumy State University 
  • Kharkiv National University of Radio Electronics 
  • Ivan Franko National University of Lviv 
  • National Technical University Kharkiv Polytechnic Institute 
  • Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University 

Ukraine has several national university rankings as well. The country has 217 educational institutions with a robust technical curriculum. Based on their reputation, research performance, and alumni impact, Dou.ua, a dedicated tech industry platform, picked 82 of the best universities. Besides the aforementioned ones, their ranking also includes National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Odessa National Polytechnic University, Ukrainian Catholic University, Oles Honchar Dnipro National University, and Odessa I. I. Mechnikov National University.

Best tech universities in Ukraine

3. Ukraine puts great emphasis on R&D

The educational system in Ukraine has a strong focus on scientific and technological advancements. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the share of public resources spent on research and development totals up to 0.5% of the national GDP. In addition, the state has been providing the widest support to technology and engineering fields, accounting for 63.7% of gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD). 

These government-backed initiatives have created a fertile ground for the continued growth of the tech industry. Some Fortune 500 companies, including Microsoft, Boeing, Oracle, and Nvidia have chosen Ukraine as their prime location for offshore software development. In addition to that, global tech giants like Cisco, Huawei, Snap, Samsung, Rakuten, Wix, and ABBY also have opened R&D centers all over the country. 

4. The state invests heavily in the education sector

Over the past five years, the amount of consolidated budget expenditures on education has doubled, from 114 to 228 billion hryvnias annually. In 2021, the Ukrainian government devoted 6.6% of the nation’s GDP to educational funding. This figure is significantly higher than in most European countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, and Hungary. In fact, Ukraine has one of the highest rates of national spending on education in the world. 

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5. STEM is thriving in today’s education landscape

Ukraine is one of the top countries in Europe in terms of higher education coverage by population. The educational attainment rate currently holds at 82%, a considerable increase from 45% in 1992. This trend is likely to continue as 75% of high school graduates choose to pursue their education at the tertiary level, which amounts to 262.5K students every year. 

Nearly half of university applicants pick a major in STEM-related fields. This means that every year the country produces more than 130K seasoned engineering professionals. Thanks to such a tremendous pool of aspiring tech talent Ukraine secured 7th position among the top 10 countries for graduates in engineering, manufacturing, and construction. 

Top 10 countries for graduates in engineering

6. The tech community is growing by 12% annually

Ukraine is one of the largest tech hubs in Eastern Europe, second only to Poland. The country is already home to 250K developers, but there will definitely be an influx of new talent in the coming years. 

The Ukrainian IT community demonstrates a steady growth of 12% a year. This means higher education institutions annually produce an average of nearly 23K tech specialists. At the current rate, in 2030 we can expect 27.8K IT graduates to enter the labor market. 

As the development of the tech industry goes the route of “dynamic growth”, the proportion of students taking STEM courses can increase up to 16.1%. The country’s engineering prowess, hence, will reach 37.4K IT specialists. This scenario actually corresponds to the real demand for tech professionals in the Ukrainian market, which counts up to 30-50K per year. 

7. Ukrainian tech universities keep abreast of the times

Computer science is expected to become one of the most popular career choices for Generation Z. The fast-expanding IT industry will continue to fuel the interest in STEM education. 

Even though the educational system is slow to adapt to the changing needs of the tech industry, there have been some positive developments in this regard. More and more universities inspect their existing educational programs and improve them to keep up with the latest technology trends

To prepare students for real-life challenges they create up-to-date courses in popular tech disciplines, such as data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality. For example, ten Ukrainian higher educational institutions already offer programs in Big Data and IoT. 

From the students’ perspective the most promising career domains are the following: 

  • Software Engineering 
  • Information Systems and Information Technology 
  • Cybersecurity 
  • Computing Engineering 
  • System Analysis

8. Programmers are committed to continuing professional development 

Formal education gives students all the necessary IT skills, laying the basis for their further professional growth. But the reality is that most newly-minted programmers often find it hard to land a job relying solely on their university-obtained knowledge. 

The fast-changing nature of the tech industry is stimulating the demand for extracurricular training. Students aiming to work in a modern IT company usually have the idea of key requirements for the desired position, so they invest plenty of their time into skill development when still in college. Their personal learning plan mostly focuses on programming languages that are popular and in-demand by companies. 

Self-education is not something only seen among the student population. 85% of Ukrainian software engineers with a university degree adhere to the principles of lifelong learning, continuing their education throughout their careers. The majority of tech specialists (61%) are enriching their knowledge by consulting with trade literature, while 26% attend tech events to learn about the latest industry trends. Professional courses and training is the preferred option for 58% of developers. 

9. 86% of Ukrainian IT specialists have a good command of English

Ukraine boasts one of the highest English literacy rates in Eastern Europe. It is currently ranked 40th among 112non-English speaking countries worldwide. The country’s overall score is rising every year thanks to the increase in both state and private investments in language learning. 

Tech specialists have a substantially higher level of English compared to the rest of the population. In 2021, 67% of Ukrainian software developers reported having intermediate or upper-intermediate levels, while 9% had effective operational proficiency. 

86% of Ukrainian developers can speak English fluently

One reason why engineers living in Ukraine have such a good command of English is that colleges and universities have professional and technical communication courses embedded in their programming curriculum. Software development companies are also interested in improving the English speaking skills of their employees. They often provide language courses as a part of their benefits packages. They usually offer it either in the form of internal language training or reimbursement for external classes. 

The growing market for tech talent places Ukraine among the top software development destinations worldwide. The country’s IT hubs keep gaining popularity among foreign business owners and startup founders. For one thing, it’s because Ukrainian developers are constantly mastering their skills. 

The tech specialists are often featured on numerous rankings of the best programmers in the world:

  • The average score of Ukrainian programmers on SkillValue is 93.17%, which is the 5th best result on this ranking. 
  • Ukraine secured 11th position in HackerRank’s global leaderboard, outstripping some of the most technologically advanced nations like Germany, Israel and the US. 
  • According to Topcoder’s ranking, Ukraine is 14th among 200+ other countries. It tech community is also #7 by the most first-place finishes in coding challenges. 

11. Ukraine has highly educated IT specialists 

High-class tech training is the key driver for the rapid development of Ukraine’s IT ecosystem. A recent study reveals that 83.3% of IT professionals possess a degree. The top three tech roles with most higher education graduates are QA engineers, senior software developers, and team/tech leads. At the same time senior project managers, business analysts, product managers and HR specialists lead among those who have two degrees, while data scientists top the list of PhD holders.

The majority of Ukrainian developers have a degree

Academic qualification is one of the top factors employers base their hiring decision on. It’s because university education not only provides aspiring professionals with solid knowledge about the industry and technology, but also helps them to develop their problem-solving, flexibility and adaptability, and interpersonal skills. Therefore, an academic degree serves as an indicator of career readiness. 

12. Extracurricular education is on the rise

A university diploma may still be an important aspect when assessing candidates as a whole, but it is no longer a barrier to getting a foot in the door. The existing statistical data shows that 16.8% of tech specialists currently working in Ukraine’s IT sphere don’t have a higher education degree. 

This tendency is not limited to Ukraine only. In fact, loosening degree requirements is one of the latest IT staffing trends worldwide. For example, in 2019 Apple CEO Tim Cook said that almost 50% of the company’s US employment was made up of people who didn’t have a four-year degree. Other Big Tech corporations, including Google, Netflix, IBM and Siemens were quick to follow their example. They are hiring specialists who have the necessary skills to get jobs done, with or without a degree. 

This situation spurred the demand for self-education and extracurricular training. IT communities of Ukraine’s big cities responded to this need by offering various short-term courses to teach programming skills. Some of the most popular educational centers include Step IT Academy, Beetroot Academy, Go IT, IT Education Academy (ITEA), and SkillUp. 

Due to the pandemic, online education has experienced a real boom this year. According to Coursera Global Skills Report, the most interesting learning domains for Ukrainian users were cloud computing, databases, computer programming, mobile and web development. They also demonstrate cutting-edge skill levels in communication (86%), human resources (97%), and data management (89%)

13. IT companies help to shape Ukraine’s tech ecosystem

Human resources are one of the most prized assets for any business. The information technology sector is no exception. Therefore, Ukrainian IT companies are investing in the development of tech education. 

To help a country build a healthy educational environment, industry leaders often organize hackathons and masterclasses that allow students to get the tech skills that are required by the market. They also host conferences and various tech events that help programmers to catch up on the latest advancements in the changing world of IT.

In addition to that, tech companies cooperate with universities, colleges and schools to introduce a state-of-the-art IT curriculum. For example, Lviv IT Cluster has been very active in that regard. This tech association has already created 14 bachelor’s degree programs at local tech universities. This year alone they launched three new programs: IT Sales Management, DevOps & Project Management, and Electronics and Computer Systems. 

These initiatives are part of IT education reform, building on the successful partnership between business, educational institutions and the state. The policy promotes collaboration in the following areas: 

  • Creating material and technical base for quality tech education. 
  • Implementing a 10/20/70 educational model, where 10% is theory, 20% is feedback from students, and 70% is practice. 
  • Facilitating the employment of newly-minted tech graduates. 
  • Building effective methodology for professional certification and testing of aspiring tech specialists for compliance with IT standards; 
  • Integrating certified tech educational centers into the training process of HEIs. 
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Final thoughts

With a large number of engineering graduates, high-quality tech universities and the overall popularity of STEM education Ukraine can offer some of the best software developers in Eastern Europe. If you consider tapping into that vast talent pool ‒ Grid Dynamics is the perfect solution. 

We offer team extension, dedicated teams, pod teams, and remote development centers in Ukraine. With Grid Dynamics, you can hire great developers sought by the leading Silicon Valley startups without any hassle.

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