Bosnia and Herzegovina is probably not the first country to spring to mind when one thinks of the IT sector. But the EBRD and the Bosnian IT Alliance (BIT Alliance) – a group of six leading ICT companies from Bosnia and Herzegovina – are working to put the country on a map by bringing up new generation of IT whizzes.
In May 2015, the first class of 21 graduated from an ‘ICT boot camp’, a six-month, intensive education programme for crucial ICT skills, with practical training from experienced IT practitioners. Now, the new graduates are embarking on an exciting new career in a dynamic and growing ICT sector in BiH.
Unemployment among young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a major and growing concern – at over 50% and showing no sign of falling, it’s one of the highest in Europe. However, businesses in BiH also face challenges identifying employees with appropriate skills, which in turn holds back their growth and limits long term economic development.
“This large pool of unemployed youth in Bosnia and Herzegovina represents great potential,” said Damir Ibrišimović, President of the BIT Alliance.
“The country is rich in political scientists, economists and philosophers, who are capable of becoming exceptional doctors, engineers and software developers. They just need the right educational tools to give them that flexibility.”
To help bridge this gap, the EBRD and the BIT Alliance launched a pilot ‘ICT boot camp’ in 2014, with funding from the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund.
Through the internship programme, a first cohort of 25 highly motivated young people received training at the International University of Sarajevo from industry professionals and experts in ICT from BiH and abroad.
The students came from all sorts of different educational backgrounds, from Fine Arts and Archaeology to Criminal Sciences, Electrical Engineering and Economics and had a wide range of experiences with higher education before. What united them was a desire to retrain in a field that both interested them and where they saw opportunities to put their skills to practical use.
It was an intensive course where the students learned about a wide range of topics, from programming languages like Java, to software development methodologies like Scrum and Agile, and software architecture.
This, combined with practice in project implementation, communications and database management, has equipped them with the skills they need to be true assets to their future employers, most immediately ICT companies.
“I am learning during the week and studying over the weekend,” explained Edib Imamovic, one of the students who has Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. “I spend more time with Java than with my closest friends.”
“BIT camp is a synonym for a bright future,” added Jesenko Gavric, an artist.
This EBRD-backed boot camp in Bosnia-Herzegovina is providing young people with training for the IT sector. In May 2015, the first class graduated from the programme. The six-months intensive training course provided graduates with vital skills to find future employment.
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BIT Alliance was so impressed with the quality of the candidates after their boot camp that 18 of the successful graduates have already been offered roles within the six companies.
“I am very proud of what we have achieved here in this first pilot course,” said Charlotte Ruhe, Director of the EBRD’s Small Business Support team. “This is a unique project and I am delighted that following this success, the EBRD and the BIT Alliance have agreed to extend the programme further and we will welcome the next round of 50 students in June 2015.
“Congratulations also to the students themselves, whose enthusiasm and hard work throughout the course have been remarkable. I am confident that they will go far!”