Microsft. Cisco. Pfizer. Google.
One after the other, more international high-tech and related companies are coming to Greece and opening key centers in the sector that’s offering good positions to skilled workers – if they can find them.
Greece lost scores of thousands of its best-educated workers during a near decade-long economic and austerity crisis and while it’s recovering from that and during the waning COVID-19 pandemic there are still shortages of workers skilled in Information Technology.
In a feature, the Bloomberg financial news agency related how many of those companies are landing in Greece but the need to find enough workers for the next generational move in the field.
In 2020, Microsoft announced plans to build three data centers outside Athens, doubling its number of local employees to just above 300 for now while in the second-largest city Thessaloniki, the US-based digital communications company Cisco is setting up a digital skills development center.
Google recently said it would begin construction of a facility to create a cloud center near Athens it said would bring more than 2 billion euros ($2.13 billion) in returns and create 19,400 new jobs by 2030.
The New Democracy government, trying to reverse a stagnant course set by the previously ruling anti-business Radical Left SYRIZA that opposed international investors, is putting money into high-tech.
That includes developing innovation districts in Athens and Thessaloniki that will house large enterprises, academic institutions, startups and incubators as the country also tries to encourage, instead of discouraging entrepreneurs who long had been held down by a system of political favoritism.
Some of the world’s biggest tech companies are being drawn by big tax incentives while Greeks face income taxes of up to 45 percent and the government is turning toward offering even more generous concessions.
While there was only 330 million euros ($351.02 million) put into the field in 2021 there’s been a 300 percent increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as companies shooed away by SYRIZA are looking to put more money in information and communication money into Greece.
State investment in the sector is now about 3 percent of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 203.26 billion euros ($216.2 billion) and the government wants to build on that, the report said.
In a recent speech at the opening of a new data center run by cloud computing company Digital Realty, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he wants the ratio to rise to 10 percent by 2027.
“This year, Greece set a record in filing and granting approvals for new patents,” he said, saying it was proof of innovation and its benefits, the Premier wanting to ride the back of high tech to push a faster recovery.
“Some 20 percent of new hires are people who were living and working abroad,” Theodosis Michalopoulos, Microsoft’s General Manager for Greece, Cyprus and Malta told the news site.
There’s competition from other countries who also want those companies but Greece is benefiting from having skilled workers, if not enough, and it’s attractive for its climate and tax incentives although hurt by having a relatively slow, sometimes unreliable and expensive Internet costs.