Latin American growth fuels need for talent, but from where?

Immigration to North America and Europe from Latin America remains high, but a reverse migration is underway. The region’s improving economies and political stability have sparked a return by highly trained, experienced professionals. Closing salary gaps and the growth of IT, finance and tech industries have resulted in talent shortages in Latin America, and uncertainties in Venezuela and Argentina are motivating professionals there to relocate within the region.

The political, cultural and economic landscapes in Latin America have been on an upswing throughout the 2000s, its upward trajectory driven by Brazil, Chile and Mexico. The UN has predicted that the region is expected to see growth rates of 4.1 percent in one year and while the region as a whole is enjoying increased social, political and economic stability, several countries stand out.

Major energy reforms are predicted to benefit Mexico’s economy. Some estimate a 4 percent boost in the GDP in 2016 and 2 percent within 10 years. The creation of two million jobs is anticipated, and domestic and international businesses, corporations and organizations are positioning themselves for the multi-faceted uptick, and investment in the education sector may influence decision making around returning to Mexico.

The rise in commodity exports has made Columbia the third largest economy in Latin America. Construction has grown more than 10 percent annually, a consistent average growth rate of 1 percent per quarter, decreased poverty, and increased security through governmental initiatives and discussions with FARC and ELN lead the World Bank to identify Colombia as one of the most attractive Latin American countries in which to invest throughout 2016.

Chile has created approximately 600,000 jobs in two years, and the labor market may expand even further. Manufacturing and construction experienced significant gains and the average annual growth rate of 5.7 percent from 2010 to 2012 made Chile the second-highest among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. Immigration has increased by 200 percent since 2002, foreign experts and temporary workers are being sought, and poverty rates have fallen significantly.

Emerging markets are changing migration patterns and scarce talent is becoming a competitive differentiator. Developed markets remain top choice, but reverse immigration is increasing.

Factors impacting talent in Latin America include:

  • Employers are actively hiring.
  • Mexico needs to meet increased productivity goals in automotive, aerospace, biotech, IT and telecom.
  • 37 percent of employers in the Americas are encountering difficulty filling positions.
  • The obstacle to hiring locally is lack of education, skills and experience.
  • Labor laws in some countries make it difficult to look outside for talent.
  • Employers in less attractive regions must pay a premium of 20 percent to 30 percent for talent.
  • Candidates can expect multiple offers and lucrative packages.
  • Female candidates for management positions command a premium.

Instability in countries such as Argentina and Venezuela are driving professionals out, but opportunities throughout Latin America make staying in the region more attractive.

Eventually Latin American nations should prepare more citizens to take their place in the workforce and these professionals will participate in the growing industries and economies. Until then, the need for talent is strong, and employers who develop strategies for finding, hiring and retaining that talent from outside will lead in beating their competition locally, regionally and internationally.

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