In order to increase the number of Information Technology (IT) graduates in Latvia, the IT Education Foundation’s project “Baltic IT Society” or BITS has launched a campaign in Ukraine and Lithuania about IT study opportunities in Latvia.
This will help to meet the goal of 3000 IT graduates per year that are needed for the labor market in Latvia.
Strong positioning of the IT industry
The BITS platform compiles the nine best IT study programs in different universities of Latvia. After months of intensive work attracting the best education and IT experts and journalists, the online platform Bits.Educationhas been updated to provide insight into internship and job opportunities in Latvia, industry growth, and compile useful data for students on living and leisure in Latvia.
Information from the BITS platform is available electronically as well as in print magazine format. Magazine can be downloaded here.
The magazine highlights foreign students’ experiences with studying and living in Latvia, giving color to why talented foreign students have chosen Riga as their place of study instead of Munich, Tallinn or Stockholm. “The reasons for this are different: the quality and cost of the study programs, the fact that there are opportunities to obtain a double degree, the strong positioning of the IT industry, which offers wide opportunities for internships and employment, as well as Latvia’s cultural and historical heritage, nature and environment in general,” explains Evija Celma, Executive Director of the IT Education Foundation.
The cost of setting up the BITS platform and campaigning in Ukraine and Lithuania is 70 000 EUR (public funding for platform development and the campaign has not been used). Currently, 327 Ukrainians and 148 Lithuanians study in Latvia.
Oppurtunity to have a successful career in the IT industry in Latvia
“Current demographics show that not only the number of domestic IT graduates but also the share of foreign students will be important for the labor market in the future. Latvia has the opportunity to position itself abroad as a country where people can acquire world-class education in order to have a successful career in the IT industry in Latvia or elsewhere,” says Maksim Jegorov, Chairman of the Board of the IT Education Foundation and head of Accenture in Latvia. “We expect that the BITS campaign we allow us to double and even triple the number of students from Ukraine and Lithuania in the coming years. At the same time, we are actively planning to continue IT education activities in Latvia in order to increase the number of local IT specialists.”
“The world market for higher education is booming. Competition between universities for the best students is increasing, as universities become more global, specialized and competitive. This means that we also have to work to give foreign students a good idea of Latvia’s experience, talents, and reputation in order to create a growing demand,” notes Raimonds Aleksejenko, Deputy State Secretary at the Ministry of Economics (EM), adding that the ministry together with industry and universities are working on the promotion of higher education export.
“Education-related exports not only make a significant economic contribution but also open up new collaborations and partnerships with the world’s leading universities. Such a platform, where we can jointly position Latvia as the Baltic IT education center, is an important step forward for us to work together on development. We will continue to work together to provide a supportive environment for international students by developing an increasingly competitive offer for Latvia,” continues Aleksejenko.
Every tenth student in Latvia - foreigner
Now every tenth student in Latvia is a foreigner. Over the past four years, the number of foreign students has increased from 4,457 students in 2014/2015 up to 8,380 in 2018/2019. Most foreign students come from Germany, Uzbekistan, and India.
According to the EM medium- and long-term labor market forecasts, labor reserves will continue to shrink in the coming years, exacerbating the already acute shortage of labor and jeopardizing future growth in the existing economic model. By 2025, the shortage of highly qualified STEM specialists could increase to ~ 17,000.
To meet the goal of 3000 IT graduates per year needed for the labor market in Latvia, the IT Education Foundation, with support from Accenture, Emergn, eazyBI, MAK IT and other companies, created the BITS project to help universities in Latvia attract foreign students to their programs, which are getting better and more competitive every year. Education export activities are supported by the EM and the Ministry of Education and Science.