A thriving slice of the Belarusian Labour Market

Reporting from Belarus: Nick Shchetko

Skilled Information technology (IT) specialists are of high value in nearly any spot of  the world, but it seems that only in Belarus they`re officially declared as the sole leaders of the official TOP-salary list! Being paid about three times more than the country average, those programmers, project managers and other IT-staff easily outrun the former “moneybags” in the country, such as oil-industry workers and bankers.

A small country in the centre of Europe, due to a lack of state regulation of the industry (with some tax preferences granted), Belarus has shown huge growth in the IT-sector over the last five years. Sharp young minds, legacy of the Soviet education system are in demand in the West – and that’s why the salaries are extremely competitive. IT professionals in Belarus can often work remotely with global partners (as from the Belarusian Hi-Tech Park – see photo).

According to a recent report revealed by the National Statistical Committee, workers in industries “related to computers” earned around $1000 monthly salary. Independent professional websites (“local Glassdoor”) set the amount even higher – at about $1300 per month.

While this may seem low if compared to US salaries of similar professionals with the IT-giants (seven to tenfold difference, or more), in Belarus people earning that wage are considered wealthy. With monthly flat rentals for around $180-300, relatively cheap food and other living expenses, Belarusian IT-specialists live very comfortable lives.

Those young professionals have their own culture, spending habits and “environment” that drastically differs from that of their peers in different occupations. There are major earning gaps looking at other occupations; teachers earn only around $230 per month, doctors – $300-400, and social workers – $200.

Despite the relative wealth and success of the IT industry in Belarus, however, there is still no “programmer boom,” in the country among recent graduates; the arts/humanities are still of considerable value among those entering university. That value, however, does not carry over into the labour-market.

The IT-field has still brought more than $215 million in revenue (2011) to the Belarusian economy.  While a significant resource, the effect is that Belarus is heavily dependent on the global markets, and may face serious challenges if the global crisis of the current model of capitalism worsens. But for the time-being, with an over-saturated market with limited worker availability, a few people are earning serious amounts of money for just knowing a few popular IT-techniques. And those sums double or triple when combined with considerable knowledge and/or experience amounts, making IT workers among of the most asked-for and well-paid specialists in Belarus.

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