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How Ukrainian IT Employees Have Been Impacted by the War

A group of people sitting at desks in an office.
​Ukrainian IT specialists at work before the Russian invasion.

​Prior to Russia's invasion, Ukraine had become one of the world's largest hubs of IT professionals working remotely for global companies. Tech giants such as Apple, Google and Microsoft employed Ukrainian-based programmers due primarily to the convenient time zone, cultural similarities and high-level IT and English-language skills.

In 2021, Ukraine won the top prize as "delivery destination of the year" and finished in third place for the "outsourcing destination of the year" designation, as determined by the Global Sourcing Association. The number of Ukrainian firms that specialized in connecting IT professionals with international partners was at a high earlier this year, with each firm providing technical assistance and supplies, onboarding, management, and support. 

The war has dramatically shifted the recruitment of Ukrainian programmers. Approximately 80 percent of Ukrainian programmers have either relocated to western regions of the country, which are considered safer, or to other European countries. Yet many global employers of Ukrainian IT talent are now requiring guarantees that workers are still able to perform within tight deadlines, which are difficult to provide given the circumstances.

While many companies show support by donating money to the Ukrainian military and paying full salaries for employees who have joined the military efforts, others have stopped projects or shortened employment agreements with Ukrainian programmers. A few companies now seek collaboration only with those IT experts who have left the country.

Of course, employers located in Ukraine have been directly impacted by the war as well. Most had to stop, delay or shrink projects that were no longer seen as critical. For example, TemaBit Fozzy Group, which works on technologies for a range of domestic products, has stopped giving assignments to about 30 percent of its IT specialists. Those employees weren't fired, but instead were put on "hold," which legally allows the employees to continue working with the company when assignments return. Approximately 1,000 people worked with TemaBit, so the "freeze" affected about 300 IT professionals. In February, the company paid the full salaries of impacted employees, but in March compensation fell to about 30 percent of the normal amount. Today, for those who still work for the company, a more flexible salary range is being provided under which pay depends on the number of completed tasks.

At Parimatch Tech, roughly 15 percent of employees (about 200 people) have been laid off. According to the company, this is because the functions and responsibilities of some specialists cannot be adapted to the current needs and objectives of the company given the war.

One of the largest Ukrainian online retailers, Rozetka, informed its IT department that it would be terminating employment with most of them, and after a long delay in salary payment the company reduced pay by 20 percent for those who remain.

Some companies that outsource IT work to Ukrainians have also shifted direction. The U.S. IT company Alchemy has laid off its Ukrainian quality assurance department of seven employees. Sources said the company turned off access to corporate services without transferring the work or creating redundancies.

Job Seekers Emerge

Recruiting activity within Ukraine has fallen significantly since the invasion and is currently at about 50 percent of the pre-war level, according to the Ukrainian online recruitment portal Djinni. As a result, job candidates have become more open to new offers regardless of location and type of work, with the number of online applications rising by almost 100 percent, according to recruiters, who say that Poland has become a prime destination for new assignments.

Fortunately, the number of job offers is rising every week, recruiters report, though job seekers with minimal experience are most vulnerable to changes in the market and are having the toughest time finding assignments.

During job interviews, it's common for Ukrainian candidates to research an employer's stance on the war before accepting a position, said Julia Fedosova, a lead technical recruiter with KitRUM in Gdansk, Poland.

"Since March, we have hired several Ukrainian engineers," she explained. "Developers from Ukraine are now interested in the attitude of the companies [regarding] the war, whether they continue to cooperate with Belarusian companies and whether they work with Russia. During the interview, we describe our attitude."

When hiring outsourced IT experts who work in Ukraine, security tends to be the top priority. Most companies note when they've made donations to the Ukrainian Army or offered financial relocation assistance to developers. Others that have had difficulty securing equipment for Ukrainian employees focus instead on identifying candidates from Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Portugal, as well as Latin and Central American countries. 

New Job Boards Emerge

As the war drags on, new employment sites are emerging specifically aimed at helping Ukrainian specialists who have lost their jobs. Those include UA Talents, Ease Work, Hire For Ukraine, Remote Ukraine and Imagine Ukraine.

The UA Talents platform was created in Germany by Ukrainian entrepreneurs and is designed to help Ukrainians who moved away before the war, as well those who have been displaced. The platform was initially created to host technical vacancies, but now lists jobs in a range of fields.  

The founder of London talent platform created the Remote Ukraine platform on the day after the invasion, in support of a member of the Ukrainian team who still lives in Ukraine with his family. The database lists more than 1,000 vacancies in 20 categories across 70 countries, with most in the IT field.

Ukraine Tech Collective (UTC) was launched to help Ukrainian IT professionals who are defending their country from Russian attacks instead of working, as well as those who have been unable to work during wartime. UTC collects applications from companies whose employees are involved in hostilities in Ukraine and identifies their critical business needs. Then the companies are matched with volunteers who can be individuals or companies that want to help Ukrainian developers with financial support for their families. 

A group of recruiting activists developed the Make it with Ukraine platform in order to help IT professionals work within Ukraine on international projects. The platform also works to provide IT education to Ukrainian women who had to leave their homes, and refugees and jobs seekers can find useful tips on relocation, how to create a CV and how to apply for jobs in foreign countries. 

Valeriia Sniesar is a freelance writer and editor in Kyiv, Ukraine. 

How can you help?
The International Committee of the Red Cross remains active in Ukraine, saving and protecting the lives of victims of armed conflict and violence. Its neutral and impartial humanitarian action supports the most vulnerable people, and your donation will make a huge difference to families in need right now. Donate here.


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