Uruguay IT Services Exports Hit Hard by Talent Shortage

Uruguayan ICT sector posted US$1 billion in revenue for 2014, with domestic market representing 65% (US$725 million) of the revenue.

The Uruguayan Chamber of Information Technology (Cuti) has urged the government to focus on boosting the tech talent pool, claiming that the South American country is running short of skilled IT talent, which is hitting IT service exports hard.

In a statement published by El País, Cuti’s new president Alvaro Lamé has said that the lack of human resources is forcing domestic technology companies to import people from foreign countries.

The Uruguayan ICT sector has employed between 12,000 and 14,000 people, about 800 of whom are foreign workers.

Alvaro Lamé, founder and director of Netgate, took charge of the IT chamber earlier this month. He says there is a need to create a pool of around 5,000 technology professionals, particularly software developers.

This is not the first time IT Chamber has expressed concern at the declining rate of IT exports. In its annual survey published in February, the Chamber called for urgent action to halt the declining service exportation to the United States.

According to its report, IT exports to the United States fell 42% in 2014. Today the U.S. accounts for just 23.1% of the country’s IT exports.

The Uruguayan ICT sector posted US$1 billion in revenue for 2014, with domestic market representing 65% (US$725 million) of the revenue. According to the Chamber, ICT revenue accounted for just 1.76% of the country’s GDP.

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“Decline in exports and the loss of jobs concern us, and show that ICT companies in Uruguay face a very complex situation,” said Carlos Caetano, the former president of Cuti, in the annual report. “Some domestic companies are relocating their operations in search of more competitive conditions.”

A lack of trade agreements with other countries is also hurting IT exports, Lamé said, urging the government to offer tax breaks for private IT companies to invest in human resources. “We are an industry that sells products and services. We need brains to keep growing,” he said.

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