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The Warsaw Voice » Business » July 30, 2012
Business & Economy
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Poland: A Business Services Hub
July 30, 2012   
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There are now over 85,000 specialists working in the modern business services sector in Poland, 50 percent more than in 2009. The main factor behind this fast expansion is the availability of well-educated workers with a good command of foreign languages.

Last year alone, 38 new business services centers appeared in Poland, creating 15,000 jobs. The value of the sector rose by around zl.3 billion to around zl.12 billion. As a result, Poland strengthened its reputation in Europe and around the world as an attractive location for investment in modern business services and was noticed not only by global corporations and trade associations, but also by international research groups.

Everest Group, a global management consulting firm, rated Poland as the most mature offshore location in Europe last year and one of the five leading locations across the world. Hackett Group, in turn, identified Poland as one of the countries indicated most often by foreign investors as a site for offshore projects.

Research by the Association of Business Service Leaders in Poland (ABSL) also confirms Poland’s strong position. It shows that Polish business services centers provide almost 40 percent of all jobs created in this sector in Central and Eastern Europe. Poland attracts one in three global business centers located in this part of the world. Central and Eastern Europe has an estimated 8 percent share of the global outsourcing market, with over 60,000 new jobs created in the sector in this region since 2009. And 45 percent of these jobs were created in Poland.

“Employment in this sector will exceed 100,000 before the end of the year,” says Jacek Levernes, ABSL president.

“Poland is now the number one in Europe, that is the best and fastest developing location for increasingly advanced services. Worldwide, only India and China are ahead of us. Poland is a resource of knowledge, best practices and the highest service standards. We are very clearly visible on the global corporate business map.”

There are now 85,000 specialists working in Poland’s 340 services centers, which are operated by foreign corporations such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Infosys, Capgemini, Google, Nokia, Motorola, Shell, General Electric, Xerox, and Ikea. Most of these people are responsible for financial and accounting, IT and R&D projects. “The mecca for outsourcing is India, with which we have competed for years. But investors give preference to Poland when it comes to services centers requiring complex processes,” says S³awomir Majman, president of the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency (PAIiIZ).

Business process outsourcing (BPO) and information technology outsourcing (ITO) centers set up by foreign companies in Poland provide 45 percent of all jobs in the sector. Jobs at shared services centers (SSC) and research and development (R&D) centers accounts for 35 percent and 20 percent of the total employment in the sector respectively. Companies from 24 countries, mainly from the European Union—in particular France, Germany, Britain, Sweden and the Netherlands—and the United States have invested in services centers in Poland. They employ mainly staff with degrees and university and college graduates who have a fluent command of English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and other, less popular, foreign languages like Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch, Swahili and Moldovan. The services centers conduct business processes in 34 foreign languages. People with degrees in economics, administration, computing, engineering and foreign languages have the best chance of finding employment at a services center.

Two years ago there was just a handful of centers in Poland employing more than 1,000. Now, there are 17. Among these are Capgemini, Hewlett-Packard, Infosys, IBM, France Telecom and General Electric centers.

Most of the centers have several locations, each with a different field of expertise. Employment is growing because the centers are taking on new projects and expanding the range of the business processes they conduct and the geographic range of the services. Most centers specialize in at least two business areas, for example finance and accounting, and IT.

Over 85 percent of the centers are conducting more complex processes now than just 12 months ago.

Research by ABSL shows that most of the companies want to continue taking on more advanced international projects. As a result, the profile of candidates for jobs offered by services centers has changed. Several years ago they mostly employed fresh graduates. At present, the average age of their employees is 29-30.

Companies have started to compete for experts who have experience not only in a specific branch, for example IT, but are also knowledgeable about how the services sector works. Mobile employees ready to travel frequently on business, especially abroad, and people with specialist qualifications, like CIMA, LEAN and Six Sigma certificates, are also in demand. More than 80 percent of services centers in Poland are located in seven large cities or metropolitan areas—Warsaw, Cracow, Wroc³aw, £ód¼, the Silesian conurbation, Poznań and the Tricity area comprising Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot—because they have well-developed higher education institutions and offer a large amount of modern office space.

These cities and metropolitan areas, apart from £ód¼, specialize in individual processes. Financial and accounting services dominate in Warsaw and Poznań, IT, financial and accounting services in Cracow, R&D services in Wroc³aw, customer service, HR management and IT services in Katowice, and R&D and IT services in the Tricity area.

According to Marek Grodziński, vice-president of ABSL and director of the Capgemini BPO Center, the area of specialization of individual cities is linked with type of staff available on the local labor market. “Cracow has the largest number of people graduating with engineering degrees, while Warsaw has the largest number with degrees in economics. The situation with foreign language graduates is similar. The number of graduates of German and Dutch studies is the highest in Wroc³aw while Gdańsk has the largest number of graduates of Scandinavian studies,” Grodziński says.
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