Romanian cities like Oradea and Cluj-Napoca already have a rich IT talent pool - and it's exactly what makes them so attractive to the Western companies looking to outsource some of their development efforts. However, the IT sector is constantly growing, together with the companies it encompasses. This rapid growth can lead to a biting competition among the latter, and guess what, they're not competing to get more and better business - at least not chiefly - but to get the best people out there.
However, since the IT sector is relatively new, senior people are few and they're already committed or have freelance careers. Unemployment is almost absent, if not downright impossible given the multitude of oDesk-like websites where IT pros can find work.
So what can a firm do to ensure access to highly qualified professionals on the long run?
An aggressive strategy is to use employee poaching, a somewhat questionable practice we prefer not to engage in.
A much less aggressive strategy is to use all the available communication channels to present your company as a top employer. This is a good strategy because potential candidates, from interns to seniors, will know about you and most likely will look for you in case they want to switch jobs or start a new career. This is a practice that Qubiz has been using for years to good results - through its blog, newsletters, social media, events, sponsorships and so on - but sometimes it's not enough.
So what do we do at Qubiz in addition to advertising ourselves as the company to be in if you're an IT professional? Simply put, we invest in raising the local talent pool through:
Internships. They are a great opportunity for students to kickstart their career by learning and acquiring real life experience in the field. And by the way, most of our senior staff started out as interns. So it's a long term investment, but if you do it right and people want to stick with you over the years, it's the best possible approach.
Informal education. For instance, we support, together with several other IT companies, the The Informal IT School, an educational project that seeks to help students and graduates, including those with no prior tehnical knowledge, to enter the IT field. The programme consists in several 101 courses on subjects like Quality Assurance, Web Development and Java. We also support CoderDojo Oradea, a volunteer-led, community based programming club for children and teenagers.
Various sponsorships. We're constantly trying to help the local students and their universities achieve excellency by sponsoring them when competing in various IT olympiads and contests. Moreover, we've been sponsoring events like the Startup Weekend Oradea and IT Bridge.
Oradea Tech Hub. Together with several other local IT and non-IT companies, we founded the Oradea Tech Hub, an association that seeks to contribute to the development of the local IT community.
Strong ties with local schools & universities. On the one hand, we organise workshops together and sometimes attend their seminaries, on the other hand, they help us by recommending their most promising students. Then there are the open doors events we organise periodically, when students from different tech high-schools are invited to visit our offices; we never miss this opportunity to encourage our young visitors to pursue a career in IT. Last but not least, we held periodical seminaries and training sessions for high school students who want to know more about the IT industry and the job opportunities that arise here.
All these represent an investment over the long haul, from which Qubiz (and other IT companies too!) will benefit indirectly. But contributing to the growth of the local IT industry and the talent pool around it is the only sustainable way in which we can hope to keep a steady and healthy growth over the years.