Business services sector will have to adapt to new global trends

Business services still belong among the fastest growing sectors in Slovakia. But it will face several challenges in the near future.

The future of the business services sector in Slovakia will depend on global trends that will influence the country’s economy.

This includes the overall stability of the business environment and the support of public institutions thanks to which the sector can grow, as well as the availability of highly-qualified and flexible labour force speaking several foreign languages. Another challenge is posed by innovations and technologies, like automation, robotisation, digitalisation and artificial intelligence, and the ability of employees to adapt to them.

The sector will also have to deal with the extension of offered services and moving other competences from headquarters situated abroad to Slovakia, according to the participants of the fourth annual conference held in early December in Bratislava and organised by the Business Service Center Forum (BSCF), running in the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Slovakia. Their aim was to define the sector’s vision for the next five to seven years.

The help of government necessary

“If we have a common interest to support responsible employers and the growth curve of the sector, the government needs to send a clear signal and more actively adopt steps that will clearly and for a long time support the strategic vision of sustainability and further development of the business services sector in Slovakia,” said Gabriel Galgóci, head of the BSCF.

As he stressed, the decision of many headquarters on whether to keep their investments in Slovakia or relocate them to other central and eastern European countries depends on these steps.

State Secretary of the Economy Ministry, Rastislav Chovanec, stressed the role of business service centres (BSCs) in Slovakia, stating that the sector belongs among the fastest growing in Slovakia. His ministry focuses on acquiring new investments in this field and wants to also spread them to the regions. “I hope that the BSCs will pay a crucial role when introducing and administering intelligent systems, and the subsequent evaluation of data,” Chovanec added.

What do BSCs in Slovakia look like?

BSCs associated in the BSCF employ altogether 32,623 people, which is 6 percent more than last year. The average age is 33 years, while 71 percent of these people hold a university degree, as stems from a survey carried out by the BSCF.

The centres have a lean management structure since only 8.5 percent of their employees have people management positions. They predominantly employ Slovak employees, with the share of foreigners amounting to 9 percent. Out of them, 71 percent come from the EU countries.

Regarding gender diversity, women employed in the surveyed BSCs comprise 46 percent. Women hold positions in management and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields: 41 percent of managers are women, while 11 percent of STEM employees are women.

The survey also suggests that the majority of BSCs are clustered in Bratislava, though investors are gradually discovering Košice and other locations.

As for the services provided, 31 percent of the centres deal with customer operations (including sales, fulfilment, tech support and customer care), while 28 percent focus on finances, 23 percent on IT services, 4 percent on marketing, 4 percent on legal and procurement services, 3 percent on human resources, and 7 percent on other services.

BSCs contribute €113 million annually to the state in form of employee income tax, €92 million as social insurance for employees, €248 million as social insurance for companies, while €690 million represent salary expenditures.

The average monthly salary is €1,780.