I recently visited Poland, and I was quite impressed. I didn't spend much time looking into it, as the trip was a vacation and not job-shopping but still. I got invited to some galla bash thrown by one of Poland's top systems integrators (Oracle, Solaris, etc). Very glitzy and slick.
Now, I know that it's hard to judge the health of an industry by it's parties, but in a way you can. Solidex went all out, and does so several times per year. Models wrapped in silk greet you at the door of a rented Warsaw U library (a brand new architectural landmark, which is why it was chosen this time) and give you a quickie tour of the digs.. Here's all the food tables (dozens if not more) where you can find anything you want.. Really. Well, almost. (What? No lobster? Ah, there it is..) There's the table area where you can eat in peace... Here's the dance floor and main schmoozing zone..
They (the models) then float through the crowd, squeezing through the tightest groups of people (did I mention the silk? I think that's all they were wearing) and making sure that no one is not holding a glass of wine or beer. I don't do wine, but the beer served was Heineken and better. The food was excellent BTW.
After a few brief rah-rah speaches by top execs and a few reps from Sun, they brought out Kayah (of I'd say Mariah Carrey caliber, for Poland) whom they also rented for the night. So she howled a selection of her old and new (new being not at all bad) stuff, and got tipsy on stage, which was amusing. I watched the 20-somethings dance themselves into a frenzy while the execs played all the usual games and I got to chat with a few techs about tech.. Sharp people. I should have brought a resume, or at least business cards - but it was a private vacation.
I got a $5 bottle of Irish Stout upon vacating, as did everyone else, so at least Solidex is doing too well to complain. They've been there for about 10 years now, and they've had better and better years each time.
That is my experience from the inside of the tech industry in Poland. Draw your own conclusions. Suffice it to say, it was very much like something that a Western company might do, with better food and booze.
The papers seem to devote about half their business sections to matters of IT, and telecom and connectivity are the clear top subject of discussion. The logistics of running digital cable to every home, HDTV, satellite communications, cellular, data backbones... I spent half my flight over reading about it - serious ramp-up and plenty of work for network people, sysadmins... The articles in the paper were surprisingly technical and well written. A real pleasure to read after dealing with the CNN style of coverage. Some, like an article on personal crypto for example, read like whitepapers. The tech reporters actually understand what they're writing about.
I don't know about the pay scale, but I suppose it all depends, just as in the US. I don't think anyone will hand you the keys to a new Ferrari just for knowing VB, but if you're competent, you will be comfortable. Bear in mind (especially the USians) that economics work differently there. Cost of living is significantly higher than Stateside, while the cost of luxury afterwards is relatively more attainable. That is to say that, once you clear the economic hump of living day to day, nice things are easy to get. It seems that IT pays well enough to get you nice things.
The general population runs the gammut. I met people who were very literate, and some who are completely clueless. The younger generations for the most part know whatever they need to about technology, while the War Era seniors tend to be completely ignorant - though there are exceptions, same as here.
I would say that, among the people I met, 2/3rds have computers at home, half are online from home, and 5% have cable internet. Their hardware is more out of date than their software, and pirated code can be had for a handshake.
Regulations are not catching up to technology and human ingenuity, and the legacy of 50 years of an oppressive system has certainly made people more opportunistic. If you want something done within the beurocracy, bring plenty of grease to get those wheels moving.
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