Costa Rican Human Talent Stands Out at the Regional Level

As the global demand for skilled labor in digital manufacturing increases, countries that manage to be at the forefront in this matter will have priority when it comes to attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

This is stated by the latest Global Talent Competitiveness Index (IGCT), which rates the human resource available in 132 countries. In its seventh edition (2020) -focused on the era of artificial intelligence- Costa Rica stood out as the best nation in Central America and the second in all of Latin America.

“While the digital skills gap is significant and continues to grow, the analysis found that the implementation of artificial intelligence could provide significant opportunities for emerging markets to anticipate.

“For example, longitudinal competitive talent analysis revealed that some developing countries such as China, Costa Rica and Malaysia have the potential to become ‘talent champions’ in their respective regions,” the report noted.

The report, developed by the European Institute of Business Administration, Google and consulting firm Addeco, added that countries and cities with future availability scored higher. The model includes 70 indicators.

The only country ahead of Costa Rica was Chile. Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Argentina closed the top 5 in Latin America. The technology company MISMO said that Costa Rican engineering talent is the main attraction for foreign investment from multinationals.

“We chose Costa Rica to establish and grow our business because it has exceptional engineering talent,” said Forum Desai, a company spokesperson. In fact, Desai highlighted the characteristics of nearshoring that make Costa Rica such an attractive place for these types of companies.

The proximity to the United States and, therefore, a similar schedule as well as the availability of bilingual human talent are two of the main characteristics highlighted by this company. Many of the clients they serve are located in Silicon Valley, for example.

Socio-economic impact

In recent years the social characteristics of the country have combined to attract a significant number of specialized companies. In just a few years, medical devices have become the main export product.

On the other hand, the arrival of transnational companies that belong to the Industry 4.0 sector have led to an over-demand for qualified employees, as recently reported by the specialized portal “Nearshore Americas”.

The human talent specialist, Jeremy Benza, explained to the media that with the expansions of technology companies such as Intel, STEM students are signing very lucrative contracts due to the lack of supply with the necessary skills.

“Naturally, wages have skyrocketed. Five years ago the junior developer position had a salary of $ 1,000 per month. Today, that place carries a remuneration of at least $ 3,000 and could skyrocket to $ 4,000, shortly, “the expert suggested to the portal.

Precisely, the demand continues to increase. For example, in recent months, companies such as Canada’s Bill Gosling (100), Concentrix (1000) and Amazon’s AWS have expanded their operations in Costa Rica.

Potential problem

The situation also requires attention because it could reach a tipping point where it is counterproductive for companies to pay such high wages. As reported by Nearshore Americas, a 2014 Manpower study found that 51% of companies (620) could not find qualified labor, the main problem being the lack of technical skills. Results from the same study last year showed no progress. In fact, the country shows the same level of scarcity as nations like Canada and Singapore.

“There are not many colleges that offer the full spectrum of STEM careers. The University of Costa Rica is one of the few. People who graduate from there usually have a guaranteed position. Even without having the title, some already have a job,” said Benza.

However, the specialist does not expect the pool of talent to be depleted anytime soon. “One study found that the number of students enrolling in some engineering is growing 300% per year,” he added.

During 2020, the export of services by outsourcing companies (information technologies, among others), was just over $ 5 billion, almost half of the country’s total exports. This, according to figures from the Costa Rican Foreign Trade Promoter (Procomer).

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