Growth in Ukrainian professional services is driven by both rising local demand, as the country continues to modernize and reform, as well as global trends in outsourcing. In particular Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), which focuses on moving back- and mid-office operations – administrative, support, or non-client facing roles – to less expensive locations, has grown into a huge market over the past two decades.
Once focused on large, cheap and English-speaking India, the industry has been bringing operations "closer to home," notably to improve communication between head and support offices. As a result, jobs have shifted to such countries as Brazil, Costa Risa, Poland or Ukraine.
According to Volodymyr Yumashev, a partner at global consultancy Deloitte, Ukraine's key advantages are the labor availability and costs, as well as proximity to key Western European markets. With a workforce exceeding 12 million advanced degree holders and 1.3 million students in the 2017/2018 academic year, including 247,000 and 104,000 students of economics and technology sciences (two key fields for BPO), Ukraine has one of the highest indicators in the region. Moreover, adds Yumashev, "high-qualified workers in Ukraine have a reasonable level of renumeration."
This has motivated such companies as global audit and advisory firm PwC, to open a center in Ukraine, joining the ranks of such firms as AB InBev, Gruma and Nestle. Their Lviv office is 350 strong, supporting the delivery of PwC services such as audit, advisory and tax.
"The location was selected after thorough analysis. Lviv met all our expectations: access to highly-educated local talent, convenient location, open business environment, significant opportunities for innovation, not to mention the growing role of Ukraine in the regional business community," said Richard Pollard, Country Managing Partner of PwC Ukraine
At present, the biggest challenges are getting work permits for foreigners and related bureaucracy, as well as a general lack of information about Ukraine. "The key bottleneck now is in the fact that Ukraine is unknown. Unknown is scary," Yumashev said.
If these challenges are overcome, the prospects can be very positive for Ukraine's role in BPO. According to Yumashev the BPO field will require an additional 265,000 jobs by 2020. "We have the opportunity to get a decent fraction of them," he said.