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Firms and Universities Join Forces to Satisfy IT Boom

Published: March 14, 2006 (Issue # 1152)


With demand for IT specialists growing at 25 percent to 30 percent a year, software companies and universities are joining forces to offset a state system of education that is failing to keep pace with the booming industry.

Valentin Makarov, president of the association of software developers RUSSOFT, said that there are two types of worthwhile education programs held at university departments in close cooperation with software developers, and courses organized in further education and retraining centers.

In both cases qualified programmers are trained by teachers who have experience in commercial programming and scientific research, Makarov said.

Andrei Terekhov, head of system programming in the department of mathematics and mechanics at St. Petersburg State University, indicated that the absence of unified educational standards for program engineering was the main problem.

Education programs even in specialized institutions are too academic. Students are not taught to plan, assess risks, manage projects and tackle other practical issues, Terekhov said.

Companies have to spend about six months training the young specialists they hire, he said.

Only 10 percent of IT specialists become high-level programmers just after graduating. About 40 percent of graduates attend additional training courses. Half the students find jobs in other areas.

To tackle these problems the citys leading universities have started experimental programs in cooperation with private companies. As CEO of Lanit-Tercom, Terekhov organized additional education for his students. About four years ago company specialists started running courses on new technologies and management. Students also run experimental projects.

Nobody expects a commercially profitable product. The goal is the study of new technologies and science, Terekhov said.

The projects get more complicated as studies advance. Students are also taught to plan budgets and present projects. The most talented ones are already employed by Lanit-Tercom and other companies by the time they graduate.

At the moment we are trying to create a techno-park near the faculty in Petergof to house 2,500 people from between 30 and 40 companies. We expect them to participate in educating students, Terekhov said.

SoftJoys Computer Academy has a program of further education, which comprises over 500 hours of lectures divided into six terms.

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