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Kraków? Love IT!

Kraków is a city that attracts experts and professionals, drawing the attention of powerful corporations from around the world. Previously hailed for being a significant outsourcing and offshoring location, it’s now increasingly recognised as a leader in the global IT labour market.

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In Kraków, a hundred IT & Business Services segment jobs are newly created each week, says the ASPIRE Headcount Tracker 2018 report. The past few years have seen sustained growth in the number of high-skill employees, giving software companies a much bigger scope for development initiatives.

IT industry growth stimulates labour markets. The labour market is driven to supply more experts. Higher availability of experts opens companies up to additional growth. And this is what’s happening in Kraków. The city is increasingly prominent, not only in Poland but also across the world. It is an excellent base for building and scaling a business as it has good university facilities, a substantial cultural offer – both high and every day in the form of restaurants, clubs and gyms – and it is well-connected with the world, which encourages you to base yourself there for your career. However, it is worth taking a closer look to help you consider the idea in more detail.

When we look at the development of the labour market in the IT sector, say from the perspective of a student or a graduate, we may easily fall into self-admiration and exaggerated optimism. Because consumption of digital goods and services is still growing, and the demand for programmers is high – so, in the end, there will be a shortage of those with proven skills. Meaning that companies will employ almost anyone, whilst offering a good salary, because the market forces them. All you need is your degree and some patience. Well, that’s not exactly so. It’s true, there’s a lot of work available, but IT employment mechanisms do not work this way – comments Piotr Bucki, VP / CTO from the company j-labs, author of the podcast series “Biznes w IT”.

Leaving aside quantitative factors for now, let’s look at the qualitative aspects because this is where the potential lies.

Engage, educate, collaborate

Looking at the industry’s future, it is worth focusing on the evolving shape of the labour market in this area. In software development, balance is essential. Here, we mean the balance between sufficient numbers of experienced programmers – forming the stable core and ensuring work is free of flaws – alongside talented candidates, graduates with a chance to learn by example from development opportunities and cooperation.

It follows that educational initiatives, such as IT Academy created at one of Kraków’s technical universities, are valuable and popular. This example demonstrates how much gets generated when experts share their knowledge. The upcoming talent quickly gains proficiency and can jointly contribute to business success.

As we see it, community contribution is vitally important in our industry. Therefore, for four years, we have been offering programmers the IT Academy – a course of lectures for practitioners, led by practitioners. This course now serves 200-300 participants. We also organise an exchange of knowledge within the company and open meetings with us in the office. This allows us to build relationships with people for whom IT is not only a temporary phase but also an identity, a real passion and something in which they engage heavily. In this community concept, we share what’s most important to us, knowledge. In return, we get the perfect method of spotting the considerable talents of possible employees – says Bucki.

Therefore, it’s possible to say that capacity – taking into account both the labour market and Krakow’s IT focus – could continue growing indefinitely if upcoming talent gets the right working conditions, supportive initiatives and ample opportunities to work alongside more experienced colleagues. At some point, we may even see a snowball effect appear. Companies, such as j-labs, who’ve built and tailored their organisational structures and cultures rather than blindly copying others, provide an excellent environment for professional development.

Keyword: quality

Kraków and software development companies are strengthening their international position. Global corporations entrust their projects to experts from Kraków – but not always to the largest and with the most capital. Why so?

It might seem that money is the critical factor at play here. However, cost-advantage alone leads to a dead-end. It’s quality that makes the difference. Technology: often we have command over it to a higher level than countries such as Germany or USA. And in business also: effective process, strong security, high-responsibility tasks and complex work. Due to this, we offer reliability and that results in well-maintained, long-term relationships – says Jan Orzechowski, CEO j-labs.

Quality, as we relate to it, can be seen in two ways: the quality the company offers the client as part of a project – and more importantly, the quality the employee and the company build for each other. Relationships are important. The skilful construction of each relationship is highly valuable, as it turns out that the challenge is not the global market of orders – but to compete for the best experts. Successful people are now mobile and keen to work remotely. Hence our direction is to build attractive and challenging environments so that they choose us, Poland and Kraków.

Observing the market, we can confidently say that the principle of a company founded by engineers for engineers – in which employees and their well-being is so important – is our distinguishing feature. Additionally, it’s a big commitment to engage in developments that bring value to people – in terms of technology, role in the team, level of responsibility and the project’s appeal. In our Software Delivery Centre, the projects we realize include advanced identity management & data access, application of Machine Learning methods and the blockchain ecosystem. We developed a spatial data management platform for use by German local governments and emergency services. We participated in building a platform for the automatic management of investment portfolios for a fintech start-up. These are challenging topics – comments Jan Orzechowski, CEO j-labs.

From an idea to a diamond

A conscious approach, thoughtful development of services and the willingness to share knowledge and nurture the professional maturity of employees is the key to success in the IT industry. Testifying to this the development of the j-labs company, whose founders shared their observations with us. As they recall, ten years ago they had just two engineers, a business idea and a few thousand PLN to get it moving – followed by two years of living on savings. Today, they employ nearly 300 specialists, with more arriving all the time. Thanks to this team, the company has developed three independent business units across three locations. They implement projects for various sectors, including banking, aviation and telco – as well as niches such as GIS, online games, woodworking and the smart home. Their offices can be found in Kraków and also Warsaw and Munich – and projects are also carried out remotely for clients from the USA, Sweden and Germany. They have just opened their new and impressive office in Kraków’s Zabłocie, creating more jobs within a developer-friendly space. Their activities were applauded by Forbes magazine last year, and they won a Forbes’ Diamond. This year, they have been nominated for the prestigious ‘Gazele Biznesu’ award, the winners of which will are to be announced at the year’s end.

How will the Kraków IT job market develop? Time will tell. According to the predictions of ASPIRE, by 2020 we will have 91,000 IT jobs in this area. One thing is sure – the employee era has come. It’s not a self-absorbed and self-serving era, but a conscious one that’s striving to expand competencies continually. It is something we appreciate and reward.

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