Olga Shapoval became the headliner of the main educational event in Ukraine — EDU Summit 2023

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«Innovations are not created online» is the key message from Olga Shapoval at IT Ukraine Education Summit 2023.

The preservation of human capital is an urgent issue for the IT industry and Ukraine as a whole.
Since the days of the full-scale invasion, Ukrainian education has experienced a powerful outflow of Ukraine’s intellectual capital abroad, which in turn is a harbinger of an acute shortage of IT specialists in a few years.

On June 7, Olga Shapoval, Executive Director of Kharkiv IT Cluster, joined the panel discussion «Academic Year Despite the Crisis: Results, Challenges, and Prospects» at the key education event IT Ukraine Education Summit 2023 to formulate messages and a joint action plan for the preservation and professional development of human resources in Ukraine.

ℹ️ IT Ukraine Education Summit 2023 is a unique platform for educational discussions with highly qualified IT industry experts, and representatives of the government, business, and educational institutions.

The discussion was attended by:

👤 Olga Shapoval, Executive Director of Kharkiv IT Cluster;
👤 Konstantin Vasyuk, Executive Director of IT Ukraine Association;
👤 Stepan Veselovsky, CEO of Lviv IT Cluster;
👤 Yevhen Gostishchev, Executive Director of IT Dnipro Community;
👤 Oles Dobosevych, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences of UCU;
👤 Dmytro Zavgorodnyi, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine for Digital Development, Digital Transformation and Digitalization.

Excursion to 2022

Olga Shapoval noted that the previous year, 2022, was eventful for Kharkiv IT Cluster, but despite the challenges and current events, education is always a priority for the Kharkiv IT community.

«The experience of COVID-19 was beneficial to us, we quickly adapted online, so on April 15 (note: April 15, 2022), the activities of educational projects resumed. Over the previous year, 15 thousand schoolchildren and students took part in our projects, 165 educational institutions joined us as educational partners, and together with maker companies, we launched a pilot project to update computer science lessons in schools,» emphasized Olha.

Yevhen Gostyshchev, executive director of IT Dnipro Community, noted that despite predictions of a decline in the number of students, this did not happen in Dnipro.

«Yes, some applicants left Dnipro due to migration, but applicants from Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, and other cities that were forced to relocate compensated for the outflow of students,» Mr. Yevhen was quoted as saying.

In addition, the executive director of IT Dnipro Community has some optimistic news. According to a survey by one of the city’s universities, 80% of students plan to return or have already done so.

In 2022, the Dnipro IT community joined the accreditation of study programs, but focused on career guidance and the admission campaign.

For colleagues from Lviv IT Cluster, like many of us, 2022 started hard and not according to plan — Lviv universities were accepting IDPs.

«Over time, we resumed all programs, slowed down the pace of project launches, but still continued to support the educational direction,» says Stepan Veselovsky, CEO of Lviv IT Cluster.

Main challenges

The experts at today’s meeting identified 4 specific challenges facing IT education today and in the near future.

📌 Who will study?

Many parents today are motivated to take their children to study in foreign higher education institutions, primarily because of safety, not quality of education.

«According to the survey, the number of children who want to return to Ukraine is twice as high as the number of their parents,» emphasizes Olga Shapoval.

Yevhen Gostishchev, executive director of IT Dnipro Community, noted that the problem of students and young people entering foreign universities being unable to leave is as familiar to him as it is to every speaker present.

Representatives of the clusters strongly stated that they are ready to take an active part and attract their own resources to form a map of human capital in Ukraine.

📌 Quality of education

According to Dmytro Zavhorodnyi, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine for Digital Development, Digital Transformation and Digitalization, 1.5 million children are currently studying exclusively online, 1.2 million in a mixed format, and 1.3 million offline. 500 thousand of them study abroad. The situation is similar in higher education institutions. Because of online work, the quality is appropriate.

«Innovations are not created online. Children need to interact with each other and be socialized in order to create something new,» Olga Shapoval said.

She was supported by her colleague from Lviv, Stepan Veselovsky, who shared a case of cooperation with the authorities: together with the Lviv City Council, Lviv IT Cluster signed a memorandum on the establishment of a research center in Lviv.

📌 Integration into the global space

Male students are limited in their own mobility – they cannot travel or do internships abroad today.

«We often observe the following situation: a boy graduates from school, enters a foreign university, and does not return to Ukraine,» Ms. Olha shares her observations.

Oles Dobosevych, acting dean of UCU’s Faculty of Applied Sciences, notes that going abroad for internships for male students is a complex issue that needs to be raised not only by the Ministry of Education. There are many other bodies that influence this.

One of the options suggested by Mr. Oles regarding integration into the global space is to organize summer schools and invite people from abroad to teach.

📌 Where to work?

The issue of employment is a separate topic, and many industries have felt it for themselves: companies have either stopped hiring or reduced the number of vacancies.

«Assessing and understanding how many graduates, in what field, and what level of qualification we expect is another challenge we face today,» said Olga Shapoval.

Lviv IT Cluster’s research has shown that the Ukrainian IT industry has already lost more than 50 thousand people, and under each of the three possible scenarios of the Victory, we are expecting an outflow of another 25-100 thousand IT professionals. One of the options that Mr. Veselovsky suggests to make future students better prepared for possible cataclysms and changes is to add an element of entrepreneurship to their education.

In general, the question «What should the industry, education, and ministries do to avoid getting a large number of graduates who cannot find a job?» remains open.

Solutions: What do experts suggest?

How do you see the participation of IT clusters in supporting science and education in the upcoming academic year 23/24?

Olga Shapoval, Executive Director of Kharkiv IT Cluster:

«First of all, we will continue to do what we have been doing: working with career guidance for parents and their children, retraining computer science teachers and lecturers. As part of our projects, 500 computer science teachers and 300 lecturers are being trained. We are ready to cooperate and be partners in the implementation of human capital preservation initiatives and will be happy to resume cooperation with the new Ministry of Education.»

Executive Director of IT Dnipro Community Yevhen Gostyshchev noted that their community plans to conduct career guidance, summer camps, and advanced training for computer science teachers.

Stepan Veselovskyi also summarized that Lviv IT community continues to support the training programs that are already being implemented, plans to launch new EDU projects, and pay attention to entrepreneurship for students.

Oles Dobosevych, acting dean of the UCU Faculty of Applied Sciences, emphasized that we need to enter into a synergy to resolve all the existing issues because we all need to get out of this crisis.

The topic of the discussion is complex, but all the speakers present are united in their desire to solve the existing challenges and problems and are open to dialogue. There is no country where there is no space for children – the future elite of this country — to grow up.

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