Mexico’s position as a source for a growing, relevant, and mature developer talent pool has been cemented over the past five years, with increasing recognition of the role that the country can and does play in globalized projects. The nature of those skills is changing however. It is cloud computing that is really driving the extension of this talent pool, leading to increasing skills in analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning and opening up new geographies within Mexico.
“Five years ago, people were talking about Mexico as a relevant talent pool; in the last five years it has grown a great deal and has proven itself and become a player in the global market,” Gustavo Pares, partner at Nearshore Delivery Solutions, says. Maru Eugenia Alemon, Headhunter at Head Hunting Boutique México, sees that skills in demand include software development, technical support, security, digital marketing, artificial intelligence, and others.
Alemon says: “Technological evolution is transforming the skills of the talent group in continuous innovation and highly qualified specialists.” Pares adds cloud as an overarching talent driver that brings with it the need for advanced analytics, machine learning, and AI.
H1B visas have been in the spotlight, of late, because of changes to the system, but Pares points to statistics around these specialist skill visas as markers of just how much Mexican talent is valued. “When we review the nationalities of those awarded H1B1 visas, the first two spots tend to be China and India, but in a number of years over the last few Mexico has ranked third. This is an important indicator; if you look at how many really specialized foreigners are coming into the U.S, Mexico is number three.” He says there is still a lot to do in terms of positioning that talent pool better, though.
While Mexico City and Guadalajara remain excellent sources of talent, Pares is increasingly seeing new talent spots popping up in places like Queretaro, and increasingly Cancun and Puebla. “Guadalajara has done great job in terms of being an alternative to Mexico City to offer global services. The new cities that are coming into play are Queretaro – it’s a really important place for innovation and technology in Mexico – and we are seeing some interesting things in places like Cancun and Puebla, which is now the fourth largest city in Mexico with a huge industrial corridor.”
Queretaro and the industrial corridors in Mexico mean that there is not only the possibility to come to Mexico and open a delivery center to service the U.S, but there is also a really interesting local market with a demand for services for digital transformation,” says Pares. “A no-brainer is if you can take care of global business but also have local clients who can pay the bills, that’s a really useful thing. Mexico has the right sized economy to become an attractive market in itself.”
Cloud computing will remain an important skill set, in Pares’ opinion. He says the key factors contributing to the development of these skills within the Mexican talent ecosystem are:
- People who have the skills tend to command higher salaries;
- Access to global projects and working with global communities: these tend to be early adopters which allow local talent to embed themselves into those skills communities and fulfil the psychological needs of a millennial workforce;
- Supply and demand: Huge demand for this kind of profile so a lot of people are moving into this area.
He warns, though, that while there is growing talent in these areas, there is still growth to be seen and the need to keep up with how these technologies evolve. “These exponential technologies are evolving so fast that you need to catch up all the time to ensure continued alignment. It’s moving so fast that not even universities, governments or companies. There is a need to create communities to train skillset beyond Mexico,” Pares adds. “You can’t roll out an initiative to grow these skills three years later.”
Pares believes that cloud computing is and will continue to open up a great opportunity for Mexico. He cites the example of Y2K, which, he says, opened up a huge growth opportunity for India. “The exponential growth of cloud can open up a similar opportunity for Mexico. There will not be enough trained hands for digital transformation.”