Baku, 26 May 2016. World Bank and Government of Azerbaijan have presented the findings of a new study undertaken by the World Bank experts entitled IT Sector and IT Skills in Azerbaijan: Challenges and Opportunities. The study assesses the strength and weaknesses of the IT sector in the country, and the gap between the skillset provided by the education system and those demanded by the employers in the IT industry. The analysis rely on discussions with the Government, interviews with public and private stakeholders, and surveys of the main IT industry players and technology universities.
Azerbaijan is facing the challenge to diversify its economy away from energy resources to create new sources of growth and quality jobs. It has developed a national economy roadmap which identifies priority sectors, including information and communication technology, to be fostered. “Azerbaijan has the potential to strengthen and diversify its economy through the development of the Information Technology industry. IT has a strong growth potential, and carries the promise to create high value added jobs among young, skilled graduates”, says Larisa Leshchenko, World Bank Country Manager for Azerbaijan.
While appreciating the measures that Azerbaijan has so far taken to stimulate the growth of local ICT sector, the Report analyzes the challenges the country is facing in meeting the economy-wide demand for high-quality technology skills spurred by the rapid growth and extensive public investment of past several years. “Azerbaijan has put in place a good environment for the development of ICT. Further progress in the areas of high speed Internet, training of skilled human resources, and support to the innovation ecosystem, can lead to the emergence of Azerbaijan as an IT hub in the region”, says Carlo Maria Rossotto, Lead ICT Policy Specialist who coordinated the work of the World Bank team which prepared the report.
This study is part of the ongoing dialogue between the Government of Azerbaijan and World Bank to promote the connectivity program, one of the key areas of the World Bank’s support to the country. It makes several recommendations to further develop ICT sector in Azerbaijan. Analysis found that marketable IT skills have a great potential to drive productivity growth of other sectors of Azerbaijan’s economy by offering swift communication, innovative knowledge solutions and business intelligence. To achieve this objective the country needs to make sure that the education system meets the requirements of the employers.
The study also found that the proportion of jobs in the services sector of the domestic IT industry, as well as the industry’s contribution to the GDP is small. Consequently, the priority should be given to the development of the domestic IT market and local products and services line, in addition to growing the local IT talent pool. This will help the domestic IT industry to compete in the regional of global markets. And finally, improving tariff policy concerning ICT products and services as part of the ongoing overall tax administration and customs service reforms in Azerbaijan, and introducing regulatory reforms to support private investment in the IT sector are recommended in order to improve productivity and foster the private sector led growth of the IT industry.