Business services still on the rise
The business services sector will become one of the most important elements of the Polish economy, predicts a new report from The Association of Business Service Leaders in Poland (ABSL). Since 2016, the total number of jobs in the sector has increased by 58% - as of June 2020, the industry employs 338,000 skilled professionals in 1,513 business services centres (including BPO, SSC/GBS, IT and R&D companies) in Poland.
Although the employment growth rate is expected to slow down as the industry moves into a more mature stage of development, the great majority (77%) of companies in the sector have announced plans to further increase employment in the coming months. It is projected that in 2021, employment in the Polish BPO/SSC will grow by another 3%-7% (a decline from the average of 12% per year recorded between 2016-2020).
According to ABSL, 970 business services centres operating in Poland belong to international corporations and generate over 80% of all jobs in the sector. Foreign investors value Poland’s physical proximity to their clients (the same time zone) and the country’s well-educated professionals with good command of foreign languages. Apart from native-born employees, over 90% of business services centres employ native foreign language speakers:
One of the sector’s distinguishing features is its multinational character – centers in Poland employ people from 65 different states, and 12% of those working in the sector are foreigners. The sector provides services in 38 different languages.
The importance of upskilling
The ABSL report notes that an increasing number of processes delivered by business services centres in Poland (especially R&D and IT centres) are becoming more complex and knowledge-intensive, which seems to suggest that the demand for high-skilled professionals in the industry will continue to grow:
In addition to this quantitative growth, the business services sector is changing considerably in terms of quality. There is a definite trend towards more comprehensive processes (a shift from back-office to middle-office services), which generates more added value.
At the same time, soft skills which cannot be replaced by automation - such as empathy, communication or problem-solving abilities - are expected to play an increasingly important role in AI-driven organizations:
An IT specialist with soft skills will become a true leader, able to translate client problems into the most effective solutions and write these up as code.
A new challenge
ABSL experts describe the BPO/SSC sector as highly resistant and adaptable to changes - it seems that the industry has responded well to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. ABSL findings show that measures such as business continuity plans or work from home arrangements were implemented by BPO/SSC companies within days of introducing a state of emergency in Poland.
While the long-term effects of the COVID-19 crisis are difficult to predict at the moment, the current challenges may be seen as another opportunity for growth. According to ABSL, Poland’s BPO/SSC industry may even benefit from the crisis seeing that a lot companies will likely shift to nearshoring - transferring business processes to locations closer to home:
Western Europe will favour locations in Central and Eastern Europe, while entities from the USA will choose locations in Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America.