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UPDATED: 7. DEC 2017, AT 15:44

Business service centres in Slovakia are growing

Easier immigration procedures and cooperation with schools are important issues.

The majority of BSCs are still clustered in Bratislava, but Košice as well as other locations are growing in popularity.(Source: TASR)

The recruitment of people from non-European Union countries and their easier access to the Slovak market as well as the closer cooperation of business service centres (BSCs) with secondary schools and universities were the main topics of the third conference organised by the Forum of Business Service Centres (BSCF) running under the auspices of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Slovak Republic (AmCham).

“The availability of a highly qualified and flexible labour force with above-standard language skills is the principal motivation for BSCs in Slovakia,” said the BSCF head Gabriel Galgóci.

The current situation in the labour market and the increasing lack of a qualified labour force will probably force BSCs to employ foreigners to maintain continual development.

“If Slovakia wants to keep its competitiveness in the global market, it must quickly search for solutions that will motivate highly qualified foreign experts to come to Slovakia,” Galgóci continued. “Quickly, simply and with the minimum of obstacles.”

Equal opportunities for men and women

BSCs are one of the quickest-growing economic sectors in Slovakia. They are the second main pillar of the economy, following the automotive sector, said Rastislav Chovanec, state secretary of the Economy Ministry.

While in 2015 there were 36 such centres, now there are at least 62 in 16 cities. They employ nearly 31,000 qualified people, which is 8 percent more than last year.

The average age of BSC employees is 33 and they earn €1,730 a month on average. Almost three quarters of employees hold a university degree. The BSCs have a lean management structure with only 9 percent of their staff holding people management positions, according to the survey carried out by AmCham.

BSCs also employ predominantly Slovak citizens. Only 11 percent of their staff are foreigners with those from the EU in the majority (84 percent).

From the point of view of gender diversity, the proportion of women and men employed in the BSC sector is balanced, 48 percent of their employees being women. BSCs offer women opportunities to hold positions in management as well as STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). As many as 40 percent of the managers are female but only 11 percent of the female employees work in STEM roles, the survey suggests.

Slovak managers play a role

The majority of BSCs are still clustered in Bratislava. However, investors are gradually discovering the advantages of Košice, as well as other locations.

Chovanec says that the new centres are usually established by companies that already operate industrial plants here.

“The second pillar is created,” Chovanec said, “when a company establishes industrial production here. After some time, the parental companies create business service centres, in part thanks to Slovak managers.”

Following the discussion with the BSCs’ representatives, the state has already changed several laws, Chovanec said. This includes the changes to regional investment aid that fail to reflect the current state. The new rules will become effective on April 1, 2018.

BSCs moving to new premises

The BSCs in Bratislava have started pushing for higher requirements in the working environment. Most recently, three centres have relocated to new spaces: Adient, Swiss Re and Johnson Controls.

Adient moved to the premises on Štúrova Street on November 28, relocating its employees from five different buildings into one.

Jeff Stafeil, Adient’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, highlighted the importance of the Bratislava centre.

“Slovakia and the business centre are absolutely instrumental for the success of Adient,” Stafeil said at the premises opening, adding that around 90 percent of the volume of transactions go through the Bratislava centre. “You are an engine that makes Adient work globally.”

Johnson Controls opened its new premises in the Bratislava Business Centre on November 15. It is the company’s biggest business centre in the world. The offices are among the most modern in Slovakia with a capacity of 1,700 employees, the TASR newswire reported.

Swiss Re opened the spaces on Mlynské Nivy Street, close to the temporary bus station.

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