Is the skills shortage getting more serious in Costa Rica?

222222prosCosta 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.

Blogging Live: Costa Rica Services Summit

Hotel San Jose Palacio is the site of the Costa Rica Services Summit, starting today

Hotel San Jose Palacio is the site of the Costa Rica Services Summit, starting today. (Post script: Internet connectivity unfortunately has been a nightmare throughout the conference. We are confident PROCOMER will choose a different venue for the 2010 Services Summit.)

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica —  Over 300 attendees from across the Americas and Europe are here this morning, and for the next two days, to strike up business relationships with Costa Rica service providers in four key sectors: health/ medical tourism; engineering and design; entertainment and media and IT and software development. Two Costa Rica economic development agencies – CAMTIC and PROCOMER – organized the event.

The event is largely organized around the increasingly popular corporate matchmaking process, where buyers (over 100 are here) meet the service providers in the various sectors.

Costa Rica has established itself as an early pioneer in outsourcing services and its maturation has positioned the country to go after niche, value-added services. I will be meeting with over a dozen service providers in IT and medical tourism and will follow up with more posts.

For further data and details on the Costa Rica services market – following this post. Continue reading