The latest figures on the sector, taken from an annual survey conducted by the foreign investment development agency Invest Lithuania, reveal that shared services centres in Lithuania now employ around 13,000 people, an increase of 12% on last year’s figure. And over 11,000 of these specialists work in internationally-oriented centres (those that provide over 60% of their services to foreign clients and customers.)
And Mantas Katinas, Invest Lithuania’s General Manager, believes Lithuania’s ability to sustain prolonged growth in this sector, thanks to low saturation levels, is a key attraction for international companies. “Whilst the shared services sector is growing strongly year on year, there is still plenty of room for growth,” Mr Katinas points out. “In comparison with major regional competitors such as Krakow, Wroclaw and Prague, both Vilnius and Kaunas are far from being over-saturated.”
And Mr Katinas believes that, at present, the university city of Kaunas boasts particularly good conditions. “With demand growing for experienced specialists in Vilnius, investors are increasingly turning to Kaunas. At present, it only has 8 service centres, and it offers very favourable conditions for establishments of this kind,” he concludes.
Both saturation levels in both Kaunas and Vilnius remain amongst the lowest in the CEE region. Krakow has the lowest talent availability, with 47 out of every 1,000 inhabitants working in a service centre. The figure in Wroclaw, the second most saturated city in the region, is 37.6. By contrast, in Kaunas just 4.3 of every 1,000 inhabitants work in the shared services sector, while in Vilnius the figure is a modest 16.6. There is, then, clear potential for further growth in both cities. The average number of employees in shared services centre in Lithuania is 275.
The survey by Invest Lithuania reveals a number of other interesting characteristics of the sector. 9 of the centres in Lithuania belong to Danish companies, with the same number coming from the US, meaning these two countries have the joint largest presence in the sector. And there is a distinct Scandinavian focus to shared services in Lithuania. More than half of the centres (26) were established by companies from the Nordic region (Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway).
In terms of operations, the largest presence is from the banking and finance sector. Currently, 18 shared services centres in Lithuania belong to banking, insurance and financial institutions, with IT companies the second most common (with 12 centres).
For Mr Katinas, the future of the sector lies in further expansion, and the attraction of more complex business activities. “The growing cluster of service centres in Lithuania is becoming an important part of the Lithuania’s economic future,” he says. “We believe that Vilnius and Kaunas, and potentially Klaipėda further down the line, will become cities where service centres will grow into cornerstones of the economy,” argues Mr Katinas.