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Candidate's market conditions will not turn investors away

Karina Chowaniak

Investors continue to have Poland in their sights as proven by last year's 10-percent increase in the number of foreign owned-companies in the Polish market. Furthermore, data presented by fDI Markets shows that foreign companies invested 12,893 billion Euros in Poland last year, which places the country in second place among EU member states with regards to total foreign investment. Can we expect this trend to continue in 2018?

– Our country has many advantages, the biggest of which is human capital, that is the availability of highly qualified workers coupled with low labour costs when compared with other EU member states. The exceptional foreign language skills of our professionals, which are in very high demand in new investment projects, are another noteworthy advantage that our country has to offer. There are more factors contributing to Poland's high investment potential rating, including infrastructure, office space supply and educational potential, defined as the future availability of qualified workers. All of those factors have been accounted for in the Antal Business Environment Study. At the same time, Poland's attractiveness is proven by last year's increase in the number of direct foreign investments from 272 to 335 – says Artur Skiba, chairman of the international recruiting firm Antal.

Poland's economy in top shape

Europe is experiencing an economic upturn. According to the European Economic Forecast, economic growth is expected in all EU member states. The European Commission claims that that has not happened for over a decade. Forecasts for Poland are much more optimistic than for other EU members. EU's average economic growth is predicted to reach 1.8% of GDP in 2018, whereas Poland is expected to grow by 3.1% of GDP, which places our country among the eight fastest-growing EU economies.

- We have been observing salary growth for quite some time now, and we are aware that it is placing an increasing burden on investors. It is worth noting, however, that this holds true for most EU member states. Several countries, including France, Belgium and Holland, increased the minimum wage last year. Although such trends are visible in Poland, average salaries are still three times lower (473 Euros) and our country still has the lowest labour costs in the EU. Furthermore, Eurostat data shows that the average salary in the EU is 2468 euros, or 10 256 zlotys, whereas in Poland it is only 4271.51 zlotys. Wage pressure in Poland is growing, but it does not exceed the European norm. When we take into consideration Poland's booming economy and other factors that contribute to the country's investment attractiveness, it turns out that the we outperform many of our competitors, proving that we are one of the most attractive countries for investment in East-Central Europe – says Artur Skiba.

We are professionally active

Last year was groundbreaking for the Polish labour market. We enjoyed record-low unemployment (the unemployment rate in December 2017 was the lowest in 27 years). Furthermore, average employment in the enterprises sector grew by 4.4% year-on-year. Poland has also made progress in closing the gap in professional activity, which is a fundamental labour market metric showing what percentage of a country's population is employed or actively looking for work. The data shows that 62% of Poles are professionally active or actively looking for work, and thus we are catching up to the rest of the EU (64.7%). As regards the 25-49 age cohort, Poland exceeds the EU average by 2.5 percentage points, with 82.5% of Poles in the cohort being professionally active. Furthermore, observations of the international recruiting firm Antal show that Poles are ever more flexible when it comes to job change, relocating and choosing non-standard forms of employment.

Investments will continue growing in Poland

High competitiveness, a well-developed business environment, innovative solutions and products as well as ongoing automation to make room for new competencies and occupations – all of those factors combine to create a completely new investment reality. Antal's "Investment Plans in Poland" report shows that Mazovia is the most investor-friendly province (with 28% respondents choosing Warsaw as the best place for doing business), followed by: Lower Silesia (22%), Łódź and Greater Poland (16% both). Because the report takes into consideration key aspects, such as new technologies, human capital, regional expansion and product/services development, it was possible to determine which sectors have the biggest potential and are the most popular with investors. The majority of planned investments will be made in the insurance sector – 56% of insurance firms claim that they are planning to expand in the near future. The IT and telecommunications sector follows in second place (55% of companies are planning to expand). 53% of banking, manufacturing, online and e-commerce companies also plan to invest in the future.

– We have witnessed rapid growth of the automotive, IT and SSC/BPO industries in the past three years. Furthermore, growing automation and technological improvements mean that we may expect investments in the neglected renewable energy and biotechnology industries. The Polish banking sector is also worth taking a closer look at, as it is one of Europe's, and in fact the world's, most modern industries. On the other hand, ongoing digitisation leads to mass layoffs in banking. Yet, I see that as an enormous opportunity – old roles and competencies will be supplanted by new skills, thus generating new resources and increasing demand for investments, which even now exceeds the most optimistic of forecasts – emphasizes Artur Skiba, Antal chairman.

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