Move Over, India

Romania looms as the next offshore tech powerhouse with its low costs, language proficiency, burgeoning infrastructure, and engineering skills
Could Romania be the next India for IT talent? Business-technology leaders in the former eastern European country hope so.

A delegation of business and technology executives from 26 Romanian companies recently exhibited at an outsourcing expo in New York to rally business from U.S. and international companies looking for offshore tech help.

Dozens of U.S. and other companies already are working with Romanian developers, including Microsoft, whose RAV AntiVirus software was developed by GeCAD Group, a coalition of five Romanian software and IT-services firms.

The average annual income for software developers in Romania is about $6,000, says Constin Lianu, general director for export promotion at the Romanian Ministry of Economy and Commerce, almost double the $3,300 average per-capita income. Software pros working for multinationals can bring in much higher paychecks. Developers working for Oracle earn the equivalent of $15,000 to $35,000 U.S., says Edund Fabian, senior development manager of Oracle's European Development Center, which opened last year in Bucharest and employs about 300, including Fabian, who leads a development team of 10.


Romania has about 45,000 software developers, and 8,000 graduates enter the field annually.

Photo by Mihai Barbu/Reuters
There are about 45,000 software developers in Romania and 8,000 graduates enter the field annually, Lianu says. The government is intent on expanding the ranks of IT pros, providing perks such as payroll tax exemptions.

Romania is a relatively poor country, but that's changing, Fabian says. Long plagued by political corruption, it's cleaning up its act and is expected to join the European Union in 2007, he says.

Even under Communist rule, Romanians were known for engineering skills, but in recent years many professionals left to work elsewhere. Fabian, who is 30, himself is one of the increasing number of IT pros returning. He spent seven years working in software development jobs in Ireland and The Netherlands.

Accessible Technology
To help nurture the growth of its technology industry, Romania is also developing its IT infrastructure, with broadband rollouts in rural areas and a multimillion-dollar program to subsidize the purchases of PCs for families.

Besides the cheaper labor costs, one of the biggest advantages Romania has is its multilingual workforce. Most Romanian IT professionals speak English, and many also speak French, German, Swedish, Finnish, Greek, Danish and other languages.

Disaster-recovery-software company Neverfail Group Ltd. was struck by workers' language abilities when it chose to open a tech-support office in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, says Martin Procter, a product and services director at Neverfail. The center employs 18 IT pros who provide tech support for the company's software.

Neverfail, which also has a support center in Scotland, had investigated opening a support center in India, "which won on cost," Procter says. However, in the end, Romanians' strong "understanding of English" and other multilingual skills won over India's lower costs.

Procter says, "We were looking for clever young people" who had good tech skills but were not yet "programmed" or trained for a particular industry, business, or company.

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