Why Colombian Talent is a Key Source of Qualified and Bilingual Professionals?

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Talent is a global market where some countries perform better than others, and Colombia has emerged as a hub for technical and bilingual talent in the region. As Shark Helpers, we have been experiencing this trend for the last 8 years, exploring the potential of our professionals as a workforce for the digital transformation of the Americas. Colombia is strategically positioned in the upper corner of South America, and very well connected to North and Central America, including time zone compatibility.

Colombia is also bubbling with entrepreneurial activity and has been taking very well digital transformation; developing highly connected urban centers, and large unattended rural areas with a great potential for innovation and investment. In addition, we are lucky to have a favorable policy environment and relatively high levels of Internet affordability and use when compared to other Latin American countries. Colombia has 65% of internet penetration and the population is concentrated in 5 cities with more than 1 million inhabitants, and about 27 middle size cities (above 200k inhabitants) that are part of this connected side of the population.

In this post, I will describe some interesting facts and figures that support the performance of Colombian Talent in the World´s Talent Ranking, to help you understand the benefits and attributes of our professionals and their relevance to the digital transformation of the region.

Available Workforce

According to the IMD World Talent Report, Colombia has the largest workforce in the region, with the highest growth and training rates, ahead of countries like Peru and Mexico. In terms of bilingual talent, Colombia has been improving in quality and number, and up to 17% of the economically active population speak more than one language, the equivalent of up to 4.5 million people, according to figures from Fedesarrollo.

This availability of talent, and a favorable policy for education and bilingualism, is attracting many companies from BPO and other industries. In 2015, 72% of the bilingual workforce was in Bogota, and 14% in Medellin and Cali. However, the pandemics and the possibility of remote work have motivated foreign companies to hire bilingual professionals in middle size cities and areas with good internet access; increasing job opportunities and also the availability of talent.

Access and completion of higher education

Colombia is also performing well in terms of attending higher education programs, and young people are very motivated to enroll in universities and technical schools, increasing the availability of qualified professionals.

According to the OECD Education GPS in an Overview of the education system (EAG 2021), the percentage of people who attained a bachelor’s or equivalent tertiary education degree is one of the highest, occupying the rank 10 among the 46 OECD countries.

Other figures such as the share of students enrolled in programs providing access to higher education, and the percentage of students in independent private higher education institutions are among the highest. This second figure shows how the population perceives higher education, and how they strive to attain a degree even when the public education coverage is not sufficient. These figures also show how Colombian people are curious, motivated, and eager for growing opportunities

Another interesting figure is how graduates in the field of business, administration, and law are one the highest among OEDC and partner countries. In addition, the National Learning Service (SENA), is developing training campaigns for technicians and technologists in areas related to operations, such as administration, sales, and management, creating an opportunity for local and international companies looking for qualified talent.

In addition, Colombia has 4 universities among the top 500 in the world and 12 among the top 100 in Latin America, according to QS World University. This also shows how it is not just about the number of students, but the quality of education.

During the pandemic, the world experienced a decline in jobs in industries—such as tourism, retail, and construction and growth in industries like technology and finance. Skills play a critical role in helping workers keep pace with this accelerated digital transformation, and in this scenario, alternative ways to develop new skills as MOOC (Massive open online courses) play an important role. In 2021, Coursera published a Global Skills Report, where they share insights into the world’s top skills trends.

In this Report, Colombia ranks among the top Latin American countries, with 1,9 million learners, a participation rate of 50% of women, the average age of 34 years, and 39 percent of enrollment in STEM courses. In terms of trending skills, in the category of business people are mostly learning about strategy and operations, digital marketing, and adaptability. In the field of technology, the trending skills are Theoretical computer science, programming
principles, Javascript and Scrum.

World Talent Ranking

The IMD World Talent Ranking is using a set of indicators that measure the development, retention, and attraction of a domestic and international highly-skilled workforce. They define three areas: Investment and Development, Appeal, and Readiness, and 31 criteria calculated from hard data and survey data.

In general terms, Colombia is not having a very outstanding position, and it is ranking 55 among 64 countries. However, when you analyze the different areas and criteria you can see some interesting trends. For instance, in investment and development, it ranks 34, and the criteria that measure if apprenticeships are sufficiently implemented is ranking 14. This is a result of the implementation of an apprenticeship program by SENA and other higher education institutions and shows the importance of investing in training and coaching new talent to build capacity in the system. In Colombia, companies with more than 15 employees are compelled to create one apprenticeship position or pay the equivalent to sustain the program. In addition, some companies in the software and operations industry, including ourselves, are implementing nurseries, boot camps, and apprenticeship positions, to create careers in the digital era.

The second area of the World Talent Ranking is Appeal, which refers to the extent to which a country taps into the overseas talent pool. Inside this area, Colombia is ranked 4 in the Cost of Living Index criteria, or index of a basket of goods and services in the main cities, including housing. Worker motivation is also ranked 33, and it is showing as we already know how employees are highly motivated and committed to their jobs.

That is one of the reasons why Shark Helpers is a firm believer in Colombian talent, and also in the possibility of providing job opportunities that allow keeping their motivation high as well as their potential to provide value to our customer’s companies.

If you want to check the scope of our professional services, please check the section Our People, or schedule a call to discover how we can help you to scale your business with our talented professionals.

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