Although Europe is the second smallest of the world’s continents by surface area, it packs a huge business and economic punch. And because the continent is home to 24 official languages, businesses that are headquartered or have large operations there need to have workforces proficient in languages beyond the native tongue in the country in which they’re located. Extensive language capabilities will help them penetrate new European markets and enable them to have more productive conversations with stakeholders across the globe.
So, just as we did in a recent blog on service delivery destinations best suited for Asian language delivery, we’re taking a look at the countries best equipped to handle the wide range of European languages.
European Countries and Regions
While Europe is, of course, the go-to continent for European language delivery, there are considerable differences among the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and nearshore regions, and among the different countries within each region.
Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)
CEE locations offer high scalability of multiple European languages at relatively moderate cost, but many face certain regulatory and macroeconomic issues.
Poland is the premier location in the CEE region. Because many shared services centers – or global in-house centers – are based in Poland, it has a mature service delivery ecosystem and robust infrastructure. Poland also has significant talent availability with the ability to support complex service delivery, and a multilingual talent pool with high scalability potential for a number of European languages, particularly German and French, and Russian, Italian, and Spanish to a lesser extent. However, because it’s a preferred location in the region, high competition for talent has created sourcing and talent retention issues. The country also lacks the ability to scale delivery in other European languages, such as Dutch and Portuguese.
Romania and Hungary are other good options in the region; they offer particularly high scalability for French, Spanish, and Italian language skills at a moderate cost of operations.
Nearshore locations provide the best quality of life in an optimum business environment, but operational costs are high.
Ireland is the top nearshore destination in Europe. It offers a high quality of life, a favorable business environment and infrastructure, and significant availability of multilingual talent, with high scalability potential for French, German, Spanish, and Italian due to its ability to attract quality talent from other countries. And many companies are attracted to its high proximity to onshore locations.
However, like Poland, it suffers from high global and regional player competition for talent and struggles to achieve scaled service delivery for Dutch and Portuguese. It’s also among the most expensive locations in Europe for service delivery.
Scotland is a good alternative, as it offers comparable languages skills and infrastructure at a lower cost of operations.
There are also destinations in Latin America and the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region that can satisfy some European languages needs.
Most Latin American countries have large graduate pools with bilingual capabilities, despite a general lack of high-quality educational infrastructure. In particular, Mexico and Costa Rica provide strong Spanish and English skills, along with mature global services ecosystems and proximity to onshore locations. However, as the premier location in the region, Costa Rica suffers from high competition for talent and the highest cost of operations in Latin America.
Destinations in MEA also have large graduate pools with strong multilingual capabilities. For example, Egypt and Morocco offer abundant French – and, to a lesser extent, Spanish – language skills, driven by a strong cultural and historical affinity to France and Spain. But the cost of operations is high in Morocco, and Egypt is politically unstable.
To learn more about the relative attractiveness of key global locations to support global languages, please see our recently published Talent Handbook for Language Skills. The report, which assesses locations against 20+ parameters, uses our proprietary ”Enabler-Talent Pulse Framework” to determine the attractiveness of locations for language delivery. You can also reach out to the report authors: Parul Jain, Kunal Anand, and Pagalam Rajeshwaran.