Poland’s Lagging Regions Can Catch Up, Says World Bank

Lagging regions in Poland, such as Podkarpackie and Świętokrzyskie, could develop more rapidly and catch up with the country’s more advanced regions in the following areas: easier business registration, stronger business-university collaboration, and improved vocational education – as elaborated in the research conducted as part of the first phase of the “Catching-Up Regions” project.

Initiated more than a year ago by the European Commission, the “Catching-Up Regions” project is being implemented by the World Bank in cooperation with the European Commission, Poland’s Ministry of Economic Development, the regional authorities of Podkarpackie and Świętokrzyskie, civil society organizations, local enterprises and academics.

“In many areas, Podkarpackie and Świętokrzyskie could serve as models for other regions to follow throughout Europe. An improving infrastructure, development of the aviation industry in Podkarpackie, and the rapid growth of tourism in Świętokrzyskie are all evidence of great progress that has been made in recent years,” said Carlos Piñerúa, World Bank Country Manager for Poland and the Baltic States.

“Despite this, our experts have identified areas where further improvements are possible. Above all, there are huge opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises to be the engines of growth in these regions, and for greater cooperation between business and education. Now is an opportune time to implement changes that can benefit all people living in these regions,” Piñerúa added.

The research – comprising several reports – outlines a number of ways in which the lagging regions could catch up. First, the regions should ensure that the vocational and technical schools’ students receive more practical work experience through in-firm learning as part of their curriculum. More time spent in well-managed and more competitive firms would increase students’ chances of getting a job after graduation.

Second, a newly-established Podkarpackie Center of Innovation would strengthen cooperation between academics and entrepreneurs who are willing to invest in new research and development projects, leading eventually to the development of more innovative products, services and start-up firms.

Third, specialized advisory services, combined with financial incentives to support the growth of small and medium enterprises in Podkarpackie and Świętokrzyskie, could improve their competitiveness in regional markets and beyond.

Fourth, according to the World Bank’s “Doing Business in Poland 2015” report, Kielce and Rzeszów, the capitals of Świętokrzyskie and Podkarpackie regions, respectively, are ranked in the third and second-to-last place in the ease of business registration. Encouraging online registration and the introduction of a performance-based bonus among the administrative staff of those divisions could help new entrepreneurs open their businesses faster and cheaper.

Going forward, the World Bank will continue to support Podkarpackie and Świętokrzyskie regions, specifically with regard to the implementation of the recommendations outlined in the reports published today. World Bank experts will also start working with other regions in Poland, improving their development potential.

Report by The World Bank.

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