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In this article, I discuss the challenges of talent acquisition in CEE and Pontoon’s smart and cost-effective approach to opening Central and Eastern European talent markets for our clients’ foreign investments.
CEE is an attractive location for foreign investments; even the situation in Ukraine could not change that. Some countries, like Serbia, Romania, and Georgia, have seen growth in foreign direct investment (FDI). With its skilled workforce, respectable technical universities, relatively low costs, and various government incentives for business, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has become a manufacturing hub for automotive industry leaders, including those operating in the electric vehicle (EV) space. However, navigating local talent markets in the region can be a challenge for foreign investors – and that is precisely where the experience of a global talent provider proves invaluable.
Companies looking to source and hire candidates in CEE must consider both micro- and macrotrends in each country’s job market – all within the larger cultural, political, and economic context. CEE is a diverse region; depending on how it’s defined, it can encompass well over 20 countries, each with its own language. Such linguistic diversity means that companies looking to hire in the region need to rely on bilingual or multilingual staff to assist in communicating with those workers whose English language skills are limited.
Like the rest of the world, CEE is also struggling with talent shortages; for instance, many skilled workers in Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania migrate to other countries to pursue more attractive job opportunities abroad. Meanwhile, Polish companies are experiencing shortages of IT professionals – but also construction workers, with many migrant workers from Ukraine leaving their jobs in Poland to defend their country.
To make matters even more complicated, countries in the former Soviet block have developed at different paces since 1989. For instance, Poland and the Czech Republic achieved relatively high levels of economic development, but some, like Moldova, are still undergoing economic transition.
However, the benefits of opening Central and Eastern European talent markets for foreign investments outnumber the potential drawbacks, and automotive companies can easily benefit from CEE manufacturing talent. CEE countries are actually in the European vanguard regarding the highest share of direct automotive employment in total manufacturing, with Slovakia, Romania, and the Czech Republic topping the list.
Local intricacies should not discourage investors, especially since an experienced talent provider can navigate these markets. More than that – as Pontoon’s example shows, a talent provider can become a proactive solution architect that leverages all available resources to meet clients’ hiring needs even in the most demanding locations.
When opening new talent markets in the Central and Eastern European region for our clients, Pontoon’s significant advantage is access to the Adecco Group’s (TAG) ecosystem of brands. While we have a strong presence in some CEE countries (e.g., Poland, with a Global Delivery Network hub based in Kraków), the ecosystem lets us leverage the in-country expertise of our sister companies. This strengthens Pontoon’s cause and showcases credibility in hiring for other countries in the region. With Pontoon as a solution architect and overarching governance lead, we can offer a service model that unifies the delivery know-how of a few brands in one programme.
To stay close to our local partners and candidates, Pontoon can build – and is actively building – onsite delivery teams for our clients in those CEE countries where our presence was previously limited. Pontoon’s teams are composed of experts who have an excellent understanding of the local job market and first-hand knowledge of national languages.
Since many of our clients who operate in CEE have leadership based in Western Europe, Pontoon sets up its programme management near client headquarters. We leverage those locations where our presence is strong and where we already have extensive experience with leaders in the automotive sector. This enables Pontoon to strengthen client relationships as part of our customer-centric ethic based on meaningful dialogue and collaboration.
Apart from Pontoon’s expert resources, we can always leverage sourcers from the local CEE-based branches of our sister brands, such as Adecco and Akkodis (the Adecco Group’s brand specialising in tech and engineering talent). Through that collaboration, we can ensure a constant flow of talent to our customers, no matter the location. Apart from Pontoon’s data warehouse, we can tap into the Adecco Group’s database to source regional candidate profiles and meet the client’s hiring needs.
Given the cultural diversity of the CEE region, its many languages, and varied economic and political realities, hiring operations in a desired location requires a talent partner who can think on both global and local levels. It requires a provider that develops innovative solutions and properly leverages resources to maximise the customer’s success.
By expanding our expertise with the know-how of the Adecco Group’s ecosystem of brands, Pontoon can widen the clients’ talent pool and create better client brand awareness in CEE – all that while delivering cost savings and process efficiencies.