One of the most important sectors contributing vastly to the growth of Poland’s economy over the last 15+ years is the business services sector.
It has played a vital part in the transformation of the Polish economy, proving valuable not only to organizations but also contributing to the development of local economies: their businesses, employees, communities, and suppliers.
The sector has grown from 10K jobs in 2003, to more than 307K employees in 2019, according to the report: “Business Services Sector in Poland 2019”, prepared by ABSL. The sector accounted for more than 3% of Polish GDP in 2018. This impressive growth has enabled Poland to strengthen its standing among the world’s three most important locations for business services centre investment. In fact, Poland leads the field in Europe, where she is No 1.
The Industrial Revolution 4.0 brought about a transformation into more advanced, technology-based processes, which require more and more highly skilled people. According to a 2019 ABSL report, 60% of all processes served out of Poland – thanks to excellent competencies and high quality – were described as sophisticated (knowledge-intensive).
According to Professor Tomasz Rostkowski at the Warsaw School of Economics and data collected from ABSL member companies, the growing number of high value added jobs in the sector are all positions that require high expertise, together with strong decision making and analytical skills. Some jobs in accounting, human resources, or IT back in 2003 were relatively basic, but over time this has changed, largely due to the high quality of work, attitude, and creativity of Polish employees looking for new solutions and areas of improvement. Polish business specialists have gained an excellent reputation. Today, many of them are in senior positions and play an important role in global business. We should expect further dynamic growth of the business services sector. Entrepreneurship, flexibility, and fast learning will stay the key drivers of industry development. Growing efficiency and complexity of business challenges will explain the higher wages of specialists providing services from Poland.
The sector is transforming its image towards knowledge and technology. The vast majority of centres have also implemented smart automation solutions in their operations – on a varying scale – or are currently in the testing phase. This has led to new positions opening and being taken by Poles, who are taking new regional and global responsibilities, and acquiring new competences, including: team work, communication, and the ability to work in an international environment. Several exceptional examples include: Director of Anti-Money Laundering Operations EMEA, Director of Global Operations CEE Regional Service Delivery Head, Global Business Services Director for CEE & MEA, Global Customer and Digital Manager, and many more.
The sector has ambitious plans to grow. More than 85% of companies plan additional recruitment this year and – what is more important – 87% are also expanding the scope of their business activities (ABSL 2019 Report). By Q1 2020, the sector will employ 336,000 people. However, Labour market specialists point out that, in 2030, employers will have problems filling every fifth job position (NIK https://www.nik.gov.pl/aktualnosci/panstwo-niegotowe-na-cudzoziemcow.html). This may create a serious barrier, not only for the sector but also for the further growth of the Polish economy, and will require a comprehensive remedial strategy on the central level.
To keep the growth of the sector and increasing complexity of business service in Poland, employers have emphasized necessary changes and improvements in the quality of education, as well as incentives for specialists to come to Poland. One of the solutions to the current talent gap is the attraction of foreign labour. However, present immigration procedures do not allow for a smooth and rapid transfer of experts. At the same time, we should think how to adjust the education system to be future proof and meet the expectations of the changing digital economy.
Last but not least, the critical factor for further growth is a friendly and predictable business regulatory environment, which should remain stable and anticipatory for investors. Recently announced government plans related to changes in ZUS and the minimum wage will not only significantly increase the cost of doing business in Poland, impacting the competitiveness of our country, but will also lower the net compensation for highly needed professionals. Some investors have already frozen their upcoming investment in Poland in search of alternative locations. The above changes may also trigger the emigration of highly educated people, who are the foundation of an innovative economy. Therefore, it is critically important to maintain an open dialogue between business and government to find solutions that will support the growth of a modern economy in Poland.