Following on from my last post about what country governments and their investment promotion agencies are doing to create a more tech-savvy workforce, we’ll take a look today at three more LatAm countries. Here are some of the initiatives they have been taking to stimulate greater education and training in their respective populations:
Colombia – In spite of Colombia sporting only one real outsourcing location, Bogota, that city’s reputation in ITO is one of the biggest in Latin America. And it’s all because of the robust educational system that has given rise to a huge pool of tech graduates that companies can draw from. According to sourcing consultancy Neo Advisory, “the city is home to over 107 higher education institutions that produce 67,000 graduates every year, of which 17,000 are technical graduates. The IT and BPO workforce in the city is currently at 50,000.”
Just as in Chile however, Colombia’s people have very low English ability, and that can hinder its outsourcing prospects over time. However the government is trying to rectify that with its Talk to the World initiative, aiming to train 10,000 bilingual workers, specifically for the IT sector.
Argentina – Constantly fighting a poor outsourcing image and a less than committed government, Argentina has nevertheless seen the demand for its IT service go up in recent years. And the country already has a large pool of skilled workers to meet that demand – simply because education is completely free for all citizens. English proficiency is also reportedly not an issue – 81% of the university grads successfully pass internationally recognized English tests like TOEFL and IELTS.
The advantage for Argentina is the presence of many Tier II cities like Cordoba, Rosario and Mendoza that also offer sizeable pockets of skilled IT labor. For now, the main obstacle that stands in the country’s way is its large bureaucracy.
Costa Rica – Still a small name in LatAm outsourcing overall, Costa Rica is poised to become one of the leaders, at least in the IT field. Ever since it won a key $300 million deal with Intel in 1996, the country and investment agency CINDE have worked to radically improve the business climate for US tech companies. One of those improvements was in the education system – Costa Rica is ranked the best in Latin America, according to the WEF’s Global Competitiveness Report 2009. The country also has one of the highest literacy rates in the region (95.8%).
Costa Rica’s school curriculum also targets technology skills of students from a very early age, by emphasizing computer and IT proficiency. All this has attracted some of the US tech companies looking for extremely high value niche IT services, and they find the required quality labor in Costa Rica.
Latin America’s problem is however still the creation of more high quality tech workers. In my next post, I’ll discuss how companies can partner profitably with governments in order to make this happen.