The sector of business, IT, and customer services, which is celebrating its 20th birthday in the Czech Republic this year, grew at a 13 percent rate in its jubilee year. The number of employees working in 350 centers is fastly approaching 145,000. Apart from IT, innovation, finance, HR, and data analytics jobs another 13,000 jobs are held by robotic software. Unlike any other industry of the Czech economy, this sector has grown significantly even despite the pandemic, existing centers have been constantly expanding, and new investors coming. Therefore, an increase to 200,000 employees is expected over the next 3 years. This follows from a recent survey by the ABSL association, which brings together customer, business, and IT services providers.
The first business service centers began to emerge in the United States in the late 1980s. American companies were the first to start opening their centers in the Czech Republic in 2001. Companies around the world soon followed the likes of Accenture, J&J, Exxon Mobile, Medtronic or IBM. Thanks to this, today the sector belongs to the largest segments and to the most stable pillars of the Czech economy, which was confirmed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Unlike many other industries, such as automotive, horeca or manufacturing our sector belongs to the few Czech industries that grow and work smoothly and without any fall outs. The centers help with digitalization and innovation projects of their global parent companies and offer interesting career opportunities to a growing number of employees,” says Jonathan Appleton, director of the ABSL, an association that brings together customer, IT and business services providers in the Czech Republic and conducts a detailed survey of the current situation and trends in the industry. Most centers have recruitment plans for the coming year. According to them, the number of employees will shortly reach 145,000. The good news is that there was on average a 5 % salary increase in this sector, in the case of employees with knowledge of foreign languages in short supply it was even 10 %, and the retention increased to 3 years and 2 months.
„Our latest survey showed two main trends – increasing expertise of our centers and growing loyalty of our employees. With the elimination of the routine work that is now done by robots and other technologies, the sector can offer interesting, skilled and creative work. And thanks to that, it can attract and retain people, which is a small miracle today in the context of what is happening in other sectors,“ adds Jonathan Appleton.
In terms of the focus of the centers, data analytics grew the fastest in the past year. IT services, including research and development or the implementation of robotics and automation, and specialized financial services are also on the rise.
50 % more jobs for robots year-on-year
The sector bet on robotic automation years ago. Today, there are 4,500 automation experts in the sector, who design and implement robotic software in the business services centers and also in their parent companies. In the centers, robots account for the working capacity of 13,000 full time employees, which represents a 50 % year-on-year increase. In addition to RPA (Robotic Process Automation), OCR technologies (Optical Character Recognition), artificial intelligence and chatbots are increasingly being used in this sector. The pandemic accelerated their implementation in 63 % of centers.
Covid brought new work, but complicated the employment of foreigners
„The pandemic has affected our sector as an accelerator of growth, expansion, and the implementation of new technologies. 36 % of centers report a positive impact on the development of the center and the range of services provided in 2021, which is 19 percentage points more than in 2020. Only 5% of respondents experienced a negative impact of the pandemic,“ says Jonathan Appleton. The centers had to face complications with employing foreigners, on whom the sector depends due to the 35 languages in which the sector provides services. In total, experts from abroad make 44 % of all employees, but 35 % of centers report a reduced number of candidates from abroad, a third of them talk about the increased fluctuation of foreigners, and 29 % fear that the employment of foreigners today means a high risk. This problem is only exacerbated by the protracted pandemic.
„At present, our centers in the Czech Republic employ almost a tenth of all local foreign workers, of which the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic registers around 660,000, so our sector is the largest employer of foreigners in the Czech Republic. Our foreign experts contribute 2 % to the Czech GDP and generate about $ 4 billion a year, most of this money is invested back in the Czech Republic. And this benefit is threatened, as well as the growth of the sector. It would help to simplify very complicated immigration processes and tax conditions, which would allow foreigners to work from their home countries,“ comments Jonathan Appleton and adds:
“We support the election of EU friendly government that can build on the foundations of our global sector and continue to support the flow of international business and talents into the country – without which we wouldn`t be the Czech success story that we are.“
The annual ABSL conference brings news, trends, case studies and inspiration
The entire latest ABSL survey will be presented at the annual ABSL conference, which takes place online this week. Fifty experts from the business, customer, and IT services will offer an insight into the trends that affect the sector today and provide inspiration for further development. Registration is still open on www.absl.cz/conference. Amongs the partners of the conference are companies such as Deloitte, ABInBev, Colliers, Foreigners Czech, Novartis, The Hackett Group, Scott.Weber Workspace, Siemens and many more.
Growth in the number of employees in the sector of business, IT and customer services
The growth of the number of jobs done by robotic software
ABSL (Association of Business Service Leaders in the Czech Republic) is an organization of companies operating in the segment of shared business services, which represents a strong source of employment in the Czech Republic. ABSL was established in 2013 with the aim of supporting companies in the field of business services, sharing best practices and helping to develop the activities of its members and other entities operating in this segment. At the same time, ABSL provides support to foreign investors who want to set up their business service centers in the Czech Republic. At present, there are around 350 centers in the Czech Republic employing nearly 145,000 people. More information can be found at www.absl.cz.