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This month a Romanian company placed an ad in which it was looking for Finnish native speakers to relocate to Romania. This gave way to the idea for this article and the question about whether Eastern Europe can provide employment for Western Europeans.
Doom and gloom in Western Europe
Consider a doom scenario: the economy is diving, the number of unemployed is rising and the chance of finding a job according to one’s qualification is close to zero. So instead of earning tips in a bar to pay off an education loan and moan over the increasing taxes, why not go on an adventure, get a job in an exotic location in Eastern Europe, save up some cash and build up international work experience?
This scenario is far from unrealistic. According to the data released by the British Higher Education Statistics Agency, almost 10% of British university graduates still remain unemployed 6 months after graduation in 2011. This is almost 20 000 people.
One of them, Laura Dixon is taking courses in childcare in Scotland. After graduating from Liverpool Hope University majoring in politics and drama, she went on to a charity mission in Tanzania, then took an au pair job in Germany before going back to the UK to requalify as a nursery worker. “When I graduated, it was impossible to find a job. So I decided to go onto an adventure”, explains Dixon. Her friends in the mean time, also university graduates, ended up working in United Utilities and HMRS call centres in Cumbria.
Can Eastern European jobs be a suitable alternative to these young professionals? Perhaps a seaside location can be one selling point. Constanta in Romania, Varna in Bulgaria, Odessa in Ukraine, all located on the Black Sea coast, could be alluring to northern Brits, if only because of the climate and warm sea. Better jobs and living standards are other good reasons to look for jobs in Eastern European outsourcing industry. Here are just two examples.
Graduate jobs in Ukraine
Consider attractiveness of Ukraine as a potential job location, where taxes are low and summers are hot, costs of living are affordable and job opportunities are great. The country has almost a thousand outsourcing companies, many of which would benefit from a Western take on marketing of their services which they have to sell in a highly competitive international market place.
Intellias, an outsourcing company in Lviv brought Tom Seuren, a Dutch post-graduate student to join their sales and marketing team in Ukraine for a gap year. His job was help build sales in The Netherlands. Seuren, who faced lukewarm prospects in a very competitive job market back home, decided to take on a challenging job in Ukraine, rather than settling for a mediocre one in Holland.
Seuren assisted Intellias to build a Dutch market entry campaign from scratch. In the interview to GoalEurope he said “I was able to develop my skills much faster and it gives me a big advantage on the job market right now.” By moving to Ukraine Seuren has also increased his living standards: “Though my earnings would not have been sufficient to live on in my home country, it was a pretty good salary in Ukraine, ” he added.
During his gap year in Ukraine Seuren not only worked in the Ukrainian environment, he also had a Ukrainian flatmate, so he has been completely submerged in the Ukrainian culture. “Instead of just travelling to other countries, I truly lived in a different culture and completely integrated in it. I had a really awesome year in which I learned a lot, had loads of interesting experiences and met great people who I will never forget,” he concluded.
Expat jobs in management
Management talent is also in high demand across the outsourcing industry. The problem can be solved by bringing client representatives to join the local team. Providing such client professionals a local base in the Ukraine is standard practice at Ciklum, a Danish-owned, Ukraine-based outsourcing company.
“We offer our clients a unique opportunity to live and work in Ukraine either on a permanent or temporary basis. By doing so our client representatives gain professional experience and cultural knowledge through direct employment in the nearshore destination as well as from the Ukraine’s lower cost of living”, says Torben Majgaard, the CEO of Ciklum. “At the same time, the client’s organization benefits from faster ramp up and increased productivity of their development team due to the more efficient daily communication and onsite management”, he adds.
Christophe Lemoine, senior VP of software development at Chartsnow, a client of Ciklum, has been living in Ukraine on and off for the past three years. Here is how he describes his experience so far. “Ukraine is an amazing place to be. Kiev is one of the big cities I know where I never feel stressed or oppressed. Ukrainians are great people to know, work with or simply enjoy good time with. They have this rare quality of being able to have fun and be welcoming, even during the hard times.”
Currently Ciklum employs 11 people from 5 different Western European countries who stay in the Ukraine for a period between 6 months and up to 3 years.
More opportunities abound
Besides graduate students and managers, as much in demand are the Western specialists for call centre jobs or document processing positions where rare languages such as Finnish are required. Not much chance of finding locals who have mastered these difficult languages fluently? A native speaker who’d take a job will probably benefit from lower taxes, cheaper living costs and save up for a down-payment on a house to return to when his adventure in Eastern Europe is over.
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vita at goaleurope dot com