‘Brain business’ knowledge economy jobs increasingly concentrated in Central Europe

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During the pandemic, Europe registered a decrease in knowledge-sector jobs in areas such as IT, the high-tech industry, and creative fields. Only the far north of the continent withstood the loss in high-skill jobs, but at the same time, long-term trends also reveals that these in-demand jobs are increasingly shifting eastward. 

According to a study by the European Centre for Entrepreneurship and Policy Reform (ECEPR), Estonia and Hungary currently offer more “brain business” jobs than Norway and Belgium, while Czechia is ahead of Austria and France.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the number of jobs for highly-skilled workers was steadily increasing. According to ECEPR, between 2013 and 2009, on average, more than half a million such positions were added each year in EU countries, along with Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland.

Last year, however, the number of such jobs decreased by 167,000, according to Czech news portal E15. The exception was the Nordic region, where almost 9,000 new jobs were created in the sectors surveyed. These include the technology sector (high-tech industry, research and development, pharmaceutics and architecture), IT, advanced services, and the creative professions.

Most of the lost jobs fell under the technology sector. The year 2020 was also unfortunate for creative professionals as film, television, and music production faced major obstacles. On the other hand, the IT sector recorded an increase in production, even despite the decline in job positions, which, according to the study, is linked to automation.

At the same time, experts note the large growth of the knowledge-based economy in Central and Eastern Europe.

“Since 2014, Cyprus has seen an almost 50 percent increase in the number of jobs in the brain business per capita, while Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Portugal, and Bulgaria have reached a growth by a third or higher,” the report stated.

Of the individual cities, Warsaw scored the biggest jump, followed by Bratislava. At the same time, the Slovak capital has the highest concentration of highly qualified workers per capita, accounting for more than a fifth of the working-age population. Bratislava is followed by Prague, Budapest, and Stockholm.

The authors of the study see several reasons behind the success of the eastern members of the EU and small countries. There are lower wages, and young people already have an adequate education. The study also notes that the business environment in these states is often more open than in traditional industrial strongholds, where regulation hampers the replacement of obsolete industries with new and more promising ones.

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