Ministry of Communications Lowers Threshold for Foreign IT Workers

Russia’s Ministry of Communications has decided to help domestic IT companies experiencing staff shortages by making it easier for them to employ high-tech workers from the former republics of the USSR, reports Isvestia.

Currently, Russian employers wishing to hire foreign specialists irrespective of quotas must pay them a minimum salary of 2 million rubles a year ($63,134) or 166,000 rubles ($5,240) per month. The ministry has prepared amendments to the law “On the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the Russian Federation” that will reduce that figure by half.

The measure is expected to result in jobs for 150,000-200,000 migrant workers, which will also have the effect of slowing the rise in wages for local IT specialists.

“The strategy for the IT industry see the addition of 350,000 new professionals by 2020, doubling the current 350,000. At the moment, universities are unable to provide more than 150,000 graduates with IT training, only about half of which will go on to work in the industry. That is a huge shortage of personnel. We think that only a range of measures can help, and this is one of them.”

Some experts believe that the Ministry’s initiative threatens local workers.

“There is currently no shortage of ordinary IT specialists in the Russian economy. In many high-tech companies technicians work remotely. Because of the specificity of the profession, a programmer can effectively operate from abroad or from any region in Russia,” said Alexei Popov, President of Universal Electronic Card.

Some employers believe that if there is indeed a staffing shortage, it is only in positions for experienced IT managers, which need to be attracted from abroad. The issue facing business is that they are currently much more expensive than 166,000 rubles a month, concluded Popov.

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