Shortage of German speakers risks creating bottleneck for BSS in CEE

There is a growing shortage of German speaking talent in the Business Services Sector (BSS) across Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), according to a new report initiated and produced by Workwide Group with research support from the German Outsourcing Association (Deutscher Outsourcing Verband e.V.).

The focus of the report is on four destinations with high employment of German speakers: Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania, which have a long history in providing business and technology related services to the international and German markets.

The reasons for that are geographical and cultural proximity, marginally larger German speaking minorities, strong connection to other industries and good conditions for crossborder business.

In Poland, 53 per cent of BSS centres provide support to the German market. The ratio is higher in the Czech Republic (75 per cent) and Romania (80 per cent).

The report finds that there are several reasons behind the shortage, including increased demand for German speaking talent across the multilingual BSS in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, an increased demand for German talent from the remote gaming industry and the expansion of European headquarters of multinational companies.

“When we combine these trends with the low expatriation of German citizens (0.3 per cent of total population per annum) the shortage becomes clear,” the report reads.

“Native language talent is an important asset for any operator in BSS and native level service is expected in today’s market. Business services companies considered to be “world-class” see increasing language requirements as a higher driver for change in talent profiles than non world-class BSS companies). Based on our research and through discussions with human resources and talent acquisition leaders in business services, we observe that the current demand for German speakers in BSS in the selected CEE countries is already exceeding the availability of German speakers in the regional talent pool,” the report continues.

The report concludes that the shortage of talent is becoming a real business challenge.

Companies in Hungary for instance report an average hiring time in the BSS of 49 days, while the maximum can be up to 180 days for selected positions.

“It is becoming clear that the unfavorable demand vs availability ratio of German speaking talent is creating a bottleneck for a large part of the industry, primarily the part of the industry that offers multilingual services. This will contribute to an increase in recruitment costs as BPO’s, SSC’s and recruitment agencies with increasing demands compete in a small talent pool,” the report concludes.