Why aren’t there more programmers in Banja Luka

I recently talked to a friend working in IT sector in Banja Luka and I thought I could write a few fresh insights.

Situation in IT sector in Banja Luka Region is similar to other sectors regarding labor – we don’t have enough workers. Just like in other sectors, this is one of the main obstacles for further development of local IT firms. I’m not sure if it’s identified as a main obstacle by now, but if it’s not – it will be.

We were talking about how programmers become programmers. Apparently, in this sector formal education is not needed as much as in other sectors, at least if you are planning to get a job in small or medium enterprise (unlike public sector or big companies or banks, etc). Most people don’t have formal education anyways. Former car mechanics, graduated geographers, people with secondary education, etc. are very often in IT SMEs. Most of them didn’t participate in any kind of courses – they learned all they know by studying .pdf tutorials and watching YouTube, and during practical work. He was joking that best friend of anyone trying to master programming is “how to” combined with Google. When seniors advise newcomers, they usually tell them not to waste money on commercial courses when everything is available online, for free.

I was very curious how long would I need to study these tutorials in order to be able to find a job in Banja Luka. Answer was 3-6 months, depending of how serious I am. I was surprised to hear that after 3 months of serious work, employers would actually consider employing me. Employers, naturally, need seniors, but seems that they are aware that they can’t afford and find them. So employers have lowered their criterion. I have found out that employers generally care about discipline and elementary logic. Programming is something that can be learned.

So, I wondered, why aren’t there more people starting to learn programming? Answer didn’t surprise me: it’s because of biases. People see programming as advanced mathematics, or perhaps nuclear physics – something hard to understand and unreachable. And it’s not. Former car mechanic, now self-taught programmer with minimal knowledge of mathematics, is successfully doing it.

From my experience, this is not the only answer, but for the beginning – it sounds IT-specific enough.


Review of Labour Force Survey in B&H 2017 – more realistic representation of workforce in RS

These days media in Republic of Srpska are reporting of 263 476 employed persons, which is the highest number in history, referring to data published by Employment Office of RS. At the same time, Agency for Statistics of B&H publishes Labour Force Survey 2017, given the information of 313 000 employed persons in RS.

Where does the difference come from?

Unlike the Employment Office of RS, which defines registered workers (working in enterprises, institutions, as entrepreneurs etc.) as employed persons, Agency for Statistics of B&H used a definition that also included non-registered workers, working in enterprises or as entrepreneurs.

“Employed persons are persons aged 15 years and above and in the referent week they: (a) worked at least one hour for salary or fee, regardless of their formal status, or (b) didn’t work, but had a job they will return to.”

If we search for the number of unemployed persons in Labour Force Survey 2017, which is 116 274 according to Employment Office data, we will see it is 83 000. Therefore, significantly minor. Once again, definition of unemployed persons is different between Employment Office of RS and Agency for Statistics of B&H. Employment Office implies that unemployed persons are persons registered at Employment Office as active job seekers, and Agency for Statistics implies that they are persons who didn’t perform activities for salary, or were seeking for a job. (More about active and passive job seekers you can read in my previous blog.)

“Unemployed persons are persons aged 15 and above who: (a) in referent week didn’t perform any activities for a salary or a fee, (b) during four weeks (referent week and three previous weeks) were actively seeking for a job or found a job and will start working soon, (c) could start working in the next two weeks, if they were offered a job.”


Employment Office of RS (October 2017) Agency for Statistics of B&H (April 2017)
Number of employed persons 236 476 313 000
Number of unemployed persons 116 274 83 000

As in my previous blog, I need to underline that RS, as well as whole B&H, isn’t a place with surplus of workforce anymore, but a place with deficit of workforce. Number of working age population is decreasing at significant speed. Firstly that was recognized by local enterprises, who in the beginning had difficulties to find skilled workforce, and nowdays have more and more problems to find any workers. A drastic example happened recently in Visoko, where enterprise Prevent opened a call for employing 400 people, and they only found 2.

Only during the last 2 years, number of working age population in RS decreased by nearly 50 000. The trend is, unfortunately, speeding up: between 2015 and 2016 number of working age population decreased by 18 000, and between 2016 and 2017 by 29 000.

2015 2016 2017
Working age population in RS 885 000 867 000 838 000

In the meantime…

In the meantime, Council of Ministers of B&H and Government of Republic of Slovenia have an agreement on employing citizens of B&H in Slovenia through 3 employment offices in B&H, which is being more and more exploited.

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 (until October)
Numbers of B&H citizens employed in Slovenia through employment offices in B&H 661 1870 2677 4478 8123