CENTRAL and Eastern Europe (CEE) is a popular location for international companies who want to establish new shared services and contact centres. Investors appreciate the low costs, skilled labour, and relatively short distances to the more developed countries of Western Europe, where their main customers reside. Slovakia, which offers all of these benefits, is one of the most preferred service centre locations in the region. CEE countries continue to be popular among European companies that are seeking alternative locations for their IT and business process outsourcing services. The CEE region offers a well-educated labour force with strong language skills, as well as proximity to Western European clients. Major CEE cities are a mere two-hour flight from London and Paris and are virtually next door to Germany and Austria.
In fact, according to data made available by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in recent years, more than 20 percent of offshore projects by European firms have gone to the CEE region.
The SARIO state investment agency recently listed 22 companies who have shared services and contact centres in Slovakia. The largest firms on the list are IT and telecoms companies such as IBM, T-Systems, T-Com, Dell, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Accenture, AT&T, Siemens, and Lenovo.
Following several large recent investments in the IT industry and service centres, the Slovak labour market is suffering from a shortage of IT-skilled people. But while IT service centres say they feel the shortage, they do not regard the situation as dangerous. Moreover, most have set up their own of further education and training programs. Work in such a centre can be a challenge for young people. They get to work for international companies in a domestic environment. They get useful experience and learn a lot from their training.