Proposed legislation to encourage influx of foreign IT specialists to Russia
12 Nov '13
In a bid to decisively address the current lack of skilled IT professionals in the country, the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications is drafting amendments to Russia’s existing law on the legal status of foreign workers. Based on these amendments, Russia intends to attract “a few hundred thousand” IT-savvy migrants by 2020.
The Ministry hopes that legislators will give the green light to an eased mechanism for hiring foreign specialists that earn a yearly salary of 1 million rubles (about $30,000) or more, reported East-West Digital News, the first international resource on Russian digital industries.
Under the existing legislation, enacted in 2010, foreign “highly qualified specialists” enjoy a simplified procedure for obtaining a three-year work permit and visa if their yearly salary exceeds 2 million rubles.
The ministry also suggests that a wide range of domestic multidisciplinary programs be stepped up to handle the “acute HR dearth in the Russian IT sector,” from popularizing the IT profession among high school students to improving educational standards at universities, to subsidizing housing and mortgages for young IT talents.
The regulator first floated the idea of encouraging such migrations a year ago when Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov talked about Russia’s need for foreign IT specialists. “Neither our demography nor our educational system is currently fulfilling the shortage of qualified HR in the IT industry,” Nikiforov then stated.
This past September, Mark Shmulevich, Nikiforov’s deputy, told the audience of the annual Russian Innovation Week in Boston that Russia had plans to scrap certain migration barriers for IT specialists. Facing a precarious deficit of as many as 350,000 practiced employees for at least five years to come, this country is only capable of training about 125,000 over the same period.
A helping hand or a threat?
In his recent comments on the Ministry’s draft strategy, Shmulevich specifically emphasized that the new amendments would not jeopardize employment opportunities for domestic specialists.
However, some well-established sector players are far from sanguine about the government effort. For example, Mail.ru Group, an LSE-listed Russian Internet company, told East-West Digital News last week that the move could exacerbate the HR dire straits in Russia’s IT industry rather than eliminate it.
Dmitry Voloshin, the head of group’s research and training department, believes the only real shortcut to a better IT sector in Russia is “the modernization of IT education with enough universities teaching students sector-driven methodologies.” He thinks that the industry should step forward and bring its own specialists into IT universities as “training practitioners.”