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23 Apr

BASSCOM: Bulgaria's software industry is prospering but needs more people


The software industry is among the few Bulgarian industries which have a high added value, are competitive worldwide and provide exceptional opportunities for professional development. During the recent years, the it has proven itself as one of the most successful industries in the country, recognizable as a reliable partner at an international level and offering high added value to its clients. One of the key trends continuing from 2013 and previous years is increasing the share of the software companies offering their own products as opposed to those working on outsourcing projects. The most successful examples include Bulgarian products in perspective sectors like semantic technologies, mobile apps, business software, e-government, etc.

In order to aid the development of this prosperous sector, a Bulgarian Association of Software Companies – BASSCOM – was established in 2001. It is a non-profit industry association representing more than 50 leading companies developing software products and systems and offering comprehensive IT solutions, as well as over 60 associated members, among which universities, foundations, venture capital funds, etc.

The main objectives of BASSCOM are to promote the Bulgarian software industry, to develop professionalism and competitiveness, to work for the improvement of the education system and to actively participate in creating and implementing policies for effective IT investments for the benefit of the entire society.

Last year, BASSCOM continued its activities focusing on the

education system reforms, human resources development

in the ICT sector, etc. Further to the „Strategic requirements of the software industry to reform the education system“, outlined in 2012, the association also took part in the execution of three projects, which were funded by the Operational Programme Human Resources Development, co-financed by EU's European Social Fund. They aimed at improving the quality of education in accordance with the needs of the business:

  • BASSCOM patnered with the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA) for the IT sector in a project called „Development and implementation of a competence assessment information system“. Among the main tasks within the project is defining workforce competence requirements in view of the European, national and sector-wide requirements and standards.

  • BASSCOM was also in a partnership with the Plovdiv University „Paisii Hilendarski“ and Varna Free University „Chernorizets Hrabar“ on two projects aimed at creating and implementing a sustainable model for modernizing curriculums and educational programs according to the requirements of the labor market.

In addition, in 2013 the association issued its fifth consecutive annual research

“Barometer of the Bulgarian IT industry“,

covering member companies of BASSCOM and the Bulgarian Web Association (BWA).

The main purpose of the barometer was to offer quality and quantity information about the condition and the development of Bulgaria's IT sector, as well as the expectations and the challenges domestic IT companies are facing. The results of the research outline the trends in the IT sector and allow for better planning.

BASSCOM was also involved in a project, managed by the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA), aiming at the elaboration of a comprehensive concept for the joint development and implementation of an IT industry barometer (ITIB) with a global perspective (harmonized core module) and regional adaptability (additional modules). In this regard, the association's yearly study of the Bulgarian IT industry was one of the success stories serving as a basis for the development of the concept.

Another significant project BASSCOM took part in last year was „FORSEE – Regional ICT foresight exercise for Southeast European countries, co-financed by the EU under the South East Europe Transnational Cooperation Programme. The project, which involved 14 organizations from eight countries, was aimed at reforming R&D policies and innovation development in the area of ICT in the countries in Southeast Europe. This was accomplished through the first foresight exercize in ICT in the region, during which have been created four scenarios for the development of digital content and information technologies by 2025. They are based on different aspects and factors – from governments and regulations, through technological platforms, to entrepreneurship and innovations – and their common purpose is to reveal the possible future of this industry

As a whole, BASSCOM was a partner of all significant events in the ICT sector that were held in Bulgaria in 2013.

As for 2014 and ahead, the

labor shortage is still one of the most serious problems

for the software sector and the most serious issue in the long term. This deficit may doubly limit the business of the companies within the next decade. We expect that in 2015 the sector will need over 20 000 more software specialists than the available ones will be. This means that the annual output capacity of the education system needs to grow to 6000 from the current 2000 university graduates a year (in the sphere of IT). The conclusion of BASSCOM is that there is no connection between the actual needs of the economy and the quality, as well as the quantity of the human resources that the education system produces. The outcome is a situation in which there is simultaneously high unemployment and high deficit of well qualified workforce in some segments, including the software segment. The solution to these problems is in a total educational reform, a significant increase in the quality of education and its targeting at the real needs of the business and the society.

The long-term goal of the association is reforming the education system towards meeting the needs of the business, in particular ICT as a fast growing segment with high added value.

BASSCOM will also continue its activities in the development of a national ecosystem for encouraging entrepreneurship and innovations and increasing the competitiveness of the sector for the benefit of the entire society.

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