Over the years, Cyprus companies have developed a strategy and an offer to bring developers to the island, Katerina Andreou tells the story

Post 2012 and the bank collapse, we lost a lot of tech talent abroad as they fled Cyprus in search of stable career growth and employment, innovation etc., as unemployment skyrocketed here.

Demand for devs was not as it is now anyway, even pre-bank collapse, and tech companies, especially internationals were far fewer. So, 5 years ago we lacked senior level tech talent but we also did not have the demand for such candidates as we do now.

The demand 5 years ago was simpler and the job descriptions more flexible – companies were more able and willing to look at juniors etc and specs were more general, a lot more hardware employees were sought such as IT managers and IT support, ‘software engineers’ and devs asked for but without super niche or super specific technologies etc. Very few start up tech firms or any kind of interest in that industry here at the time.

The surge and boom in the tech industry began in Cyprus for recruiters around 2017 and it has gathered momentum and pace at a frightening rate until we have our  conditions where demand has exceeded supply.

Different firms have coped differently with the shortage and the larger internationals from Russia for example, have worked to receive the license to employ Non-EU nationals and relocated their own citizens since they have a greater number of tech talent in their home country.

Indeed certain countries like Israel, Russia and Ukraine are renowned for their innovation and vibrant tech sectors and talent. In Cyprus historically we were not known for this, most of our graduates studied medicine, law or a business/finance related discipline, although I feel certain the statistics on that would be vastly different these days. It is also interesting to note that much of our tech talent several years ago was snapped up by the public sector and since government jobs are so popular along local Cypriots, many were swallowed up by bank and public services.

In recent years there has been an attitudinal shift that we have observed as recruiters talking to our tech candidates and their focus is less on the secure, government jobs and more on the international companies, where they feel they have a higher chance at truly inspiring, innovative, cutting edge technologies and projects as well as higher salaries. React and angular, NET, Node and c sharp, Java script – these are the trending languages in demand now in Cyprus that we are being heavily asked for as recruiters. These languages allow maximum framework compatibility and flexibility hence their growing popularity and global usage. Swift, android studio, Kotlin – these languages for app development are also being asked for.

With the recession recovery post 2013 and the global surge in technological advancement and the digitisation of business worldwide, Cyprus became an attractive destination for tech companies (much lower operating costs, tax benefits etc) and these were cutting edge and highly innovative. They therefore ask for likeminded candidates able to demonstrate programming talent.

I wouldn’t say the Cypriot tech companies don’t care or understand, they are just frustrated at the massive inflation in salaries and demands from developers these days. They are unable to compete with the budgets and conditions that the internationals are offering and certain tech industries like Fintech and FX have massively impacted salary rates, especially in Limassol, for techs of all levels. In 2012/2013 a new grad or very junior developer could expect a salary of around 1100 euros a month, now this is more in the region of 1500-1750 gross.

The local Cypriot companies are lagging behind the internationals in terms of salaries and benefits for a variety of reasons not least of all is our lack of competitive infrastructure as a country. We do not have the perks and start up help in the same proportion as other larger markets like the UK or the US for example.

The Cypriot owned firms face an even tougher struggle to source and hire tech talent because they cannot offer the international exposure and innovation usually and most techs are looking for this. The Cyprus business community has been slow to grasp the extent of the global reach of this issue and how best to accommodate the changes, generally there seems to be a lack of funds within the companies for such high salaries as the developers now command.

Globally in all markets there is a recognised crisis in tech recruitment and the shortage of such professionals. Other countries though like the UK, are obviously much bigger markets with access to much larger candidate pools, larger salary budgets and generally more innovation, more infrastructure and mobility for such talent.

In other countries like the US there have been big moves to establish training hubs and facilities to grow talent from the junior and graduate pools. The recruitment approach is more forward-thinking in the larger markets, they have been less stagnant and more resourceful in establishing pipelines of tech candidates and training them in the new technologies they require.

In Cyprus this has slowly begun but we have only observed it this year. More of our tech clients are beginning to offer roles and training to new graduates and juniors. Whereas in larger markets this started literally years ago.

So, having said all of that! Cyprus has a unique blend of perks and benefits that cannot be found in the bigger countries, that ultimately does attract and keep us on the watch list for tech firms coming here and developers moving here.

Apart from the obvious: weather and Mediterranean beach-type-life, we have impressive tax perks, we have a lower cost of living and travelling is much easier.

Cyprus is located close to Europe and the Middle East, which is where most developers considering relocation hail from. This means they can get home regularly, relatively quickly and cheaply. For the firms it means travel expenses are lower. For developers from such countries to move to Cyprus is also much less of a culture shock and adaptability is faster and easier, since countries in these regions often have one of the essentials in common with Cyprus: Cuisine, religion, etc., are all fairly similar.