The growth of the Armenian information technology sector – which employs thousands of engineers – accelerated to 38.2%, according to government data.
The technology industry had already grown by more than 20% per year over the past decade, making it the fastest growing Armenian sector. According to government estimates, the country’s 500 information technology companies, mostly small and medium-sized enterprises, have earned more than $ 550 million in combined revenues in 2015.
The sector is dominated by Armenian branches of US giants like Synopsys, National Instruments, Mentor Graphics and VMware. But its steady expansion is increasingly being carried out by local Armenian firms.
The most successful of these startups is PicsArt, one of the most important photo retouching and photo sharing applications in the world. The company now has more than 350 employees in Armenia and has 90 million active monthly users worldwide.
Another smaller startup, attracted at the beginning of the year $ 5 million, from two US investment funds. The company, called Teamable develops software used by companies to hire skilled workers. Like PicsArt, Teamable has offices not only in Yerevan but also in San Francisco.
Another Armenian firm, SoloLearn, this month won the Grand Prize for Facebook’s “App of the Year” event, which attracted 900 applications from 87 countries. SoloLearn offers a free online application for people interested in learning computer programming.
Karen Vartanian, President of the Armenian Union of Information Technology Enterprises, highlighted the growing importance of these startups. “Our local products are emerging more and more and are proving to be international carriers,” he said.
Vahan Shakarian, executive director of Yerevan’s Technology and Science Dynamics, which manufactures smartphones and tablets, said the industry has grown rapidly as it is export-oriented. He also warned: “Booms are possible in economics. The main thing is to stay at the same level at the end of the boom. It’s a real challenge. “
For Vartanian, the main challenge is the lack of qualified computer personnel in Armenia. “Our growth is now being delayed by a severe shortage of personnel,” he added. “The education system is in tatters”.
Industry leaders have long complained about the insufficient professional level of many computer graduates from Armenian universities. According to their estimates, there are now between 2,000 and 4,000 vacancies in the sector, which employs about 15,000 people.
Successive governments have committed themselves to tackling this problem. Vartanian stressed, however, that there is still no “comprehensive and strategic cooperation” between authorities and IT companies.
In January, Prime Minister Karen Karapetian met with a team of government officials and sector officials who proposed a major reform of engineering education in Armenia. One of the leaders said that only half of the 1,300 students in information technology graduates from Armenian universities each year are sufficiently qualified to work in the sector without further training.
Claire © armenews.com