The Ukrainian tragedy is first and foremost one brought on by humanity. Russia's unbridled attack has led to tremendous destruction in Ukraine, but as mentioned, the effects are widespread and rolling all over the world. Israeli high-tech is also absorbing ricochets from the drama, with a significant workforce employed by Israeli companies being downgraded. It is estimated that there are about 20,000 to 30,000 Ukrainian developers employed by Israeli technology entities.
Apart from the need for humanitarian assistance for those thousands of workers, which many Israeli companies have already taken steps to help with, Israeli companies also must deal with the additional shortage of labour- a problem which they are already dealing with on a daily basis. In the absence of both proper communication lines in many regions of Ukraine, and the ability to function normally in war conditions, entire development teams serving Israeli companies were shut down at once. Of course, the first priority and order of business was to help such workers: advance salaries, cash assistance, help emigrate from Ukraine to neighbouring countries, and so on.
Although Ukrainian employees do not share the same office with the Israeli staff, their continuous shared work overtime produces a personal relationship and Israeli companies consider the Ukrainian employees in many cases as an integral part of the team. But even now, when some of the workers are already in a safe area and away from danger, the level of functioning of the Ukrainian employees is still limited. Therefore, now, companies must address their shortage of manpower. It seems that the situation is not expected to change any time soon, so a workable solution is needed for the short term and long term.
How exactly did Ukraine become a go-to solution for Israeli startups? There are several reasons: they have high-quality developers; have companies offer software developers as a service provider; speak English and Russian which in most cases is a common language between them and their Israeli development manager; Ukraine is easy to get to, so managers can fly out to meet with their teams if need be; there is no time difference so it is easier to collaborate between both teams, and is cheaper to hire from. Over the years, the trend of hiring offshore software developers has stabilized.
Now that the Israeli tech hub in Ukraine has been shut down for an unknown period, Israeli companies are actively looking for alternatives. But even without the crisis in Ukraine, this is something Israeli companies should do. Meaning, just as companies geographically diversify the location of their servers in fear of general data loss, so too is it necessary to decentralize the manpower of the company to the same extent. Among the alternatives that have become prominent in recent weeks, since the crisis arose in Ukraine, are Portugal, Poland and, surprisingly, Nepal. Nepal, which is a popular travel destination for Israelis, has a population of about 30 million people, many of whom have technological capabilities, but at a dramatically lower cost. The Israeli companies, which are having difficulty recruiting quality personnel in Israel as part of the never-ending talent struggle, can find an immediate solution through offshore solutions in Nepal among other countries. This will allow companies to address their ongoing struggle to find developers, which has now been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.
It is important to understand that beyond protection against risks like war or natural disasters, the employment of development teams from diverse countries has additional benefits: both at the economic level, in the form of more moderate exposure to currency changes, and at the cultural and professional level. Since companies are faced with various technological challenges, having a variety of developers on your team with a varied way of thinking can only be beneficial; they bring to the table a different perspective.
The whole world hopes that the war in Ukraine will end as soon as possible with minimum casualties, but in the absence of peace on the horizon, the whole world, including the Israeli high-tech industry, must adapt for the long term.
Written by Nimrod Berger, CEO of Kavadev and Honorary Consul of Nepal in Israel