Is the skills shortage getting more serious in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica has been blessed with assets that virtually any country in the world would envy: stable government, twenty-some different micro-climates, low unemployment and an educated class that …

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Costa Rica has been blessed with assets that virtually any country in the world would envy: stable government, twenty-some different micro-climates, low unemployment and an educated class that knows how to get the job done.

Yet, there are persistent questions about a saturation point in Costa Rica, where all the best labor is soaked up – especially in technical fields. For a country of just 4.1 million people, there is an impressive list of foreign companies with operations in Costa Rica. Oracle, HP, Intel and Cisco all have offices in Costa Rica and there are countless software development firms providing services to clients all over the world.

According a study just released by Manpower, nearly half of Costa Rica firms cannot meet their needs for skilled labor, particulary in technical fields. The  survey found Peru (56%) and Mexico (44%), are also having a tough time.  On the other hand,  employers in the U.S. (19%), Guatemala (20%) and Canada (24%) reported the least problems.

On my recent visit to Costa Rica – for the June Services Summit sponsored by promotion agencies CAMTIC and PROCOMER – it was clear companies are adapting to the skilled labor challenges by looking beyond borders throughout South and Central America to funnel business to other providers. This is an encouraging trend as the regionalization of service relationships is another shot in the arm to help drive BPO activites – and economies –  in such places as Colombia, Panama and Nicargua.

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