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EFCI Stockholm conference focuses on future of business services10th of September 2014
The European Federation of Cleaning Industries (EFCI) held a conference in Stockholm, Sweden recently. The theme was how the renewed European parliament and commission will impact on business services.
Hosting the event was the Swedish sector association Almega, and Ulf Lindberg and Bengt Jödahl (currently also EFCI president) explained Sweden is a service-oriented society and it needs to attract more skilled personnel from other countries.
Jödahl went on to say that 75 per cent of Swedes work in the service sector. He talked about the rapid growth in the service sector in recent years, as companies provide more and more services to consumers.
Francisco Cabellero-Sanz from DG Enterprise and Industry talked about how the nature of the service sector is changing – pointing out it is now not so much about transactions but increasingly based on relationships and solutions. “We are seeing a ‘servitisation’ of the economy, “ he said, “whereby even industrial firms are becoming service providers.”
Stephan Schwarz is managing director of GRG Facility Services in Berlin, Germany, and also a member of the European High Level Group (HLG) on business services. He believes growth can be propelled by business services. “Business services are going through change in traditional areas of industry,” he said. “Automation, for example, has led to loss of jobs. So we must see this redressed in non-industrial areas.”
The borders between services and what is traditionally known as ‘industry’ are coming down. Industry is being redefined – even small companies can now serve on a global scale for example. Original concepts have now evaporated.”
Driver for innovation
Schwarz continued: “Business services can be a driver for innovation and growth and this should be technology-driven – training and skills are also key.
“Innovation will be a key feature in public procurement too, which has focused too much on lowest price for too long. There must be social and environmental innovation too.”
Norman Rose of the UK, also representing the HLG, explained the group has a 2020 vision for business services - but business services do not feature in the Europe 2020 strategy. “We are a skilled area of business,” Rose said. “And we are more skills and people dependent than ever. It’s vital we have a European skills strategy that is also fulfilled at a national level.”
Rose also highlighted the importance of improving the image of the business services sector because currently it is not attractive as a career. “And the sector must provide a more definite career path, so upskilling of staff is crucial. Fragmentation is naturally a challenge due to the fact more and more multi-services are emerging.”