The Vilnius-based Barclays technology center, which has recently announced plans to cut the number of its staff by a third, has probably found cheaper business development opportunities, head of the Investors' Forum, uniting foreign investors, believes.
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Rūta Skyrienė acknowledged that Barclays had become a symbol of successful foreign investments in Lithuania, therefore, public disappointment would be unavoidable.

Modern business is constantly looking for better and cheaper business opportunities, therefore, Barclays' decision shouldn't be a surprise, Skyrienė said. She also pointed to the fact that Vilnius still lacks „normal“ flights to London, although it probably wasn't the decisive factor for the investors' decision.

"I think time has just come for such a decision, probably there are cheaper locations (…) Besides, I don’t know what kind of staff, what specialists will be moved. Maybe it will have to do with the call center, but it's not the only service of service centers. There are other jobs Lithuania is competent and competitive enough to do", Skyriene said.

She noted, however, that Barclays was one of the first international technology centers in Lithuania and is viewed as a symbol of successful attraction of foreign investments, therefore, public disappointment would be unavoidable.

"But it's not a tragedy. (…) We are growing and improving, our people's competence is also growing. I am just worried that they might move those people as well, we cannot discard that possibility. Trained specialists sometimes are just moved to other countries. Let's be happy about them being here and paying taxes in Lithuania", Skyriene said.

Meanwhile, Paulius Vertelka, director of the INFOBALT association of IT companies, says over 30,000 people work in the IT sector, so 350 is a very small number.

"I don't know what kind of people they plan to fire but when we have such high demand of specialist, the market will quickly absorb them. O don’t see any problem", he told BNS Lithuania. He believes Barclays' decision to let a third of the center's staff go should not be considered a tendency.

The number of people working for service centers in Lithuania is growing by 1,000-2,000 a year and currently exceeds 15,000. A study earlier this year by INFOBALT, Invest Lithuania and the Research and Higher Education Monitoring and Analysis Centre (MOSTA) showed that 13,300 specialists will be needed in the information and technology market over the next three years.

Investors that are about to settle in Lithuania, including Booking.com, Centric, NKT, Telia – will additionally create over 3,000 jobs.

Data from Invest Lithuania shows that 71 service centers operated in Lithuania in late 2017, and 16 new centers or development projects were announced last year, with the number of jobs set to further grow by another 2,600.

Western Union, Danske Bank and Nasdaq have technology centers in Vilnius, and Swedbank has a non-financial service center. Other companies also have IT and service centers in the Lithuanian capital.

BNS
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