Reversing ‘brain drain’ should become Ukraine’s government strategy

Reversing ‘brain drain’ should become Ukraine’s government strategy

Retaining high-qualified Ukrainian workforce, currently based within the country or abroad, should become part of the government strategy for human resources. At the moment, entire industries are suffering a rapid ‘brain drain’. This results in a burning question of who will be there tomorrow to support and develop the real sector of the economy. Particularly vulnerable are those parts of the job market where competencies, experience and qualifications require 10–15 years to be gained, and the loss of such professionals is unlikely to be compensated in the short term.

Staff losses

According to different estimates, the full-scale invasion has forced 6–8 million Ukrainians, mostly women and children, to leave the country. At the same time, industries have seen a radical redistribution of human resources. Many professionals, including our colleagues, have joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Some have relocated abroad and thus faced the employment regulations of other countries, virtually making them stop cooperation with Ukrainian companies. Others are seeking asylum in other regions within Ukraine, not always being able to commit to their responsibilities as qualified specialists. These and other factors are contributing to a situation where Ukrainian businesses are left with fewer and fewer people who could help them survive and develop. Eventually, this is bound to undermine economic stability. Therefore, although the top priority today is people’s safety and defense of Ukraine, further steps of the country should consider talent retention as a nationwide problem.

The latest UN data published on October 3, 2022, shows that for the time being, 4.2 million Ukrainian citizens have been registered as temporarily displaced persons in Europe. Depending on the host country's requirements, a bulk of them is supposed to find local jobs, earn their living and pay taxes. However, among these displaced persons are specialists whose replacement poses an enormous challenge for Ukrainian companies. They do not have the time resource of several years for training, and yet survival in the market needs top-notch professionals. International dialog is now essential to regulate the conditions of working for Ukraine outside Ukraine, which would be a vital driving force for the economy.

What we can notice is that the authorities are seeking ways to combat unemployment as it has reached threatening figures due to the war (35% even according to the official data of the State Employment Service). In particular, the Verkhovna Rada has adopted Law No. 6067 to promote job security and employment schemes.

Saving teams

As we see, it is a government-level task to retain the key workforce no matter where it is, in another region of Ukraine or abroad, so that domestic companies have the resources to grow. In turn, businesses should also make an extra effort. Ukrainian teams have the digital tools to work remotely, and this technical aspect is part of the agenda of everyone engaged in business development.

The maximum speed of digitizing business processes is also driven by the full-scale war. Many of IT-Enterprise’s clients have lost their factories as a consequence of occupation and military aggression. Fortunately, where possible, the businesses of respective areas are doing their best to save at least part of their assets. For instance, Severodonetsk Research and Production Association Impulse (Luhansk region) had timely implemented a broad range of digital solutions for Product Data Management (PDM) and Master Data Management (MDM). After forced relocation in spring 2022, the company was able to restore operations very quickly, some of them in one day. This is completely feasible for modern enterprises with digitized business processes.

Digital solutions help teams preserve product data, collaboration results, change history and custom product developments in the online format. Electronic document management enables production companies to resume operations as soon as possible, even in a crisis. And the key benefit is the implementation of tools allowing team members to contribute to their projects from anywhere in the world. Importantly, this very feature means that high-qualified professionals can continue working for Ukrainian companies, which could partly solve the ‘bus factor’ issue as they emigrate.

Ever since the beginning of the 2022 invasion, IT-Enterprise has been continuously digitizing the business processes of Ukrainian companies. It has launched an automated procurement system together with Ukrzaliznytsia and public authorities, developed an accounting solution for humanitarian aid and started the second stage of ERP implementation at Ukrposhta. The tech company’s team is dedicated to supporting the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

A notable example of current implementations is Lantmännen AXA Ukraine, the country’s largest manufacturer of breakfast cereals branded as START!, АХА and Finn Crisp, and a major exporter. This summer, the company implemented a system for efficient enterprise asset management with the SmartEAM mobile application. Now its staff can track equipment load and condition, gain time for action with predictive maintenance, manage inspections and monitoring on a system scale, access equipment data via QR codes, and many more. With this functional array, decision-makers can control all related processes in real time and plan the next steps.

Overall, process digitization helps Ukrainian companies stay resilient despite the current challenges. Instead of investing years into training new employees, they can grant access to their team member from Accounting or Marketing, at the moment based in Europe as a displaced person with her child, and thus keep the collaboration going. This is a giant leap to preserve qualified workforce and empower the entire country for post-war recovery.