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Eastern European Potential



Research into temporary agency work in Central and Eastern Europe has revealed, for the first time, a comprehensive picture for the sector in the region and identified a strong potential for development. It also shows that temporary agency work provides more work opportunities for more people, already providing over 181,000 jobs in full-time equivalent on a daily basis in 2008 in the 7 countries covered by the report.

The report, commissioned by Eurociett and carried out by Interconnection Consulting, focuses on Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia - all countries for whom Temporary Agency Work is relatively new, and whose markets have only opened up in the past decade, especially after joining the EU. While the sector had enjoyed growth in these markets in recent years it is now suffering in the economic downturn with markets contracting.

However, the report suggests that the sector is well placed to develop when the economy improves and to contribute to recovery and job creation. The opportunity is particularly significant in the countries where the sector is best established and that have a sound regulatory framework in place - particularly Poland, Hungary, Slovenia and the Czech Republic. In order to maximize potential benefits when the economy recovers from the current economic crisis, it is necessary to establish an appropriate regulatory framework for the industry to operate in, e.g. Bulgaria and Romania.

The report found that Poland, as the largest country in the region, had the most private employment agencies (2,340) and the highest number of internal staff (4,073). Bulgaria had by far the smallest market with total annual sales of 23 million compared with 92 million in Romania, the second smallest, and 569 million for Poland, which again had the highest number.

In 2008, the average penetration rate in the region was approximately 0.6%, the highest being that of the Czech Republic at 1.9% and the lowest Bulgaria at 0.2%, compared to the EU average of 2%. The number of agency workers in full-time equivalent was highest in Poland (84,931), followed by Hungary (33,860) and Romania (30,305). The report also revealed that Poland had the largest share of young workers, with nearly 50% of agency workers below the age of 25. The Czech Republic, on the contrary, had the highest share of older workers, with 29% of agency workers between the ages of 31 and 45 and 28% over the age of 45. The Czech Republic also had the highest share of male workers (65%), followed closely by Slovakia (62%), and in contrast to Poland where 52% of agency workers are women.

The agency work industry will have an important role to play in supporting recovery in these markets, said Annemarie Muntz, President of Eurociett. As part of its everyday activity, the sector keeps people in touch with the job market and helps laid off workers and outsiders to re-enter the workforce. It supports workers by providing them with training to ensure that their skills are in line with market demand. The industry acts as a buffer for the labour market as a whole and provides companies with the kind of flexibility they will need to adapt to and recover from the current crisis. In Central & Eastern Europe, the Agency Work sector still has room for development, which will in turn lead to job creation and better functioning labour markets.


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