My name is Iliya Krastev. I am an entrepreneur with extensive experience in business services and innovation. I have been the Executive Director of the Updata One group for almost 15 years.

Updata One is a community of companies – A Data Pro, Identrics, Perceptica, and SeeNews. The role of Updata One is to support cooperation between our companies, creating a single platform based on common values and beliefs. The companies deal with processing, analysing, and providing information in different forms.

What kind of experts and specialists work at your company?

Our community includes people with different skills and experience in data collection and processing, media monitoring and analysis, risk analysis, machine learning and artificial intelligence modeling, IT, and journalism. What unites people in the group is their curiosity for information, technology and innovation, and global business. We believe our mission is to provide reliable knowledge to our clients in a timely manner and thereby support their business decisions.

Why have you decided to partner with the Telerik Academy School?

Education has always been an important topic for me. The skills and competencies that education provides must be relevant to the environment in which young people live. For better or worse, the educational system in Bulgaria is difficult and slow to change. I believe that successful initiatives, such as the Telerik Academy School, will support the transformation of the Bulgarian education system. The most important thing is that the academy develops and covers more and more schools in different towns and cities, thus reaching more children.

Why do you think it is important for children to learn programming and digital technology when they are still young?

I don’t think we should restrict it to just programming. Digital skills, in general, already present an indispensable part of the competencies of young people, who are looking for professional realization or are at the brink of their professional path. Moreover, the very process of learning and acquiring digital skills develops so-called “soft skills” in children. Working on different projects – independently or in a team, for example – theoretically develops their teamwork skills, communication skills, and discipline.

How do you think the Telerik Academy School contributes to the successful realization of its students? What is the added value of conducting these courses?

As noted above, the slow pace at which our educational system changes necessitates similar initiatives that actually fill these needs and provoke the system itself to evolve. Yet, on the other hand, the children lack a foundation in other topics that should also be in focus, such as their communication skills, which are essential in the increasingly complex world they live in, as well as skills related to civil society, its functioning, and the interactions of each person within that society. Last but not least, we need to think about how we convey the idea of lifelong learning.

What advice would you give people starting their first job in the IT industry or considering a career in the IT industry?

To understand and accept that they must learn new things throughout their life, and not only their professional life. The world is changing at a rapid pace and will move much faster than they do. They will probably have to change several professions, and the more knowledge and skills they have, the easier it will be to enter new roles and professions and adapt to the demands of the business.

What do you think is the reason for the low level of digital literacy in Bulgaria? How can that change?

One reason is very practical and relates to the access to education (formal and informal) on the subject. One of the challenges facing the education system not only in Bulgaria and not only in terms of digital literacy, concerns how quickly it can adapt to change. There is a risk of “producing” people who are in constant conflict with the environment around them, at least as far as it refers to their knowledge and skills.

What do you think are the key skills and knowledge students should acquire for a strong career start?

It is important to have good communication skills and a willingness to learn new things. They must also be prepared literally and practically when it comes to preparing for the interview process. These skills and traits will create a solid foundation, after which the potential employer can step in, invest in their knowledge and skills and take them to the next level. Not possessing these qualities will make it difficult both for the individuals and their prospective employers.

What are the professions of the future? What qualities will children need?

I will repeat what I mentioned previously – communication skills are essential, but they aren’t the only thing that matters. Broad competencies are also required. The professions of the future will be linked to both technology and people themselves.

About the company:
Do you have internship programs focused on student development?

We have an internship program specifically aimed at students who want to develop in the field of new technologies. It targets students from the innovative school and the mathematics high school in Burgas. With every new school year, the number of applicants increases and it is motivating to see how these young people seek knowledge and are actively striving to acquire such knowledge.

What kind of qualified staff does your business need; do you feel a shortage of specialists?

This is a global trend. Businesses are absolutely experiencing a shortage of professionals, especially quality professionals in almost all industries. It makes sense, as unemployment in Bulgaria has been about 4-5% for the last 5 years at least. One possible solution is the automation of processes and focusing employees on core activities that give high added value to companies, customers, and themselves. For this to happen at all enterprises in an effective way, everyone in the chain must have a much broader context for business development, as well as the desire and motivation to acquire new knowledge and skills while still challenging ourselves professionally. This flexibility and adaptation should guarantee (as much as possible, of course) business sustainability.