To Beat the Tech Shortage, Turn to Uruguay

You’ve heard the dire statistics: As of 2016, tech and science jobs in the United States outnumbered qualified workers by roughly 3 million. By 2030, there could be a global shortage of more than 85 million tech workers, representing $8.5 trillion in lost annual revenue. The US alone is expected to be short 6 million workers. 

Once a challenge unique to software firms and powerhouses with tech at their core like Apple, Cisco and Google, the need to build an amazing tech team or find the right partners — from a limited pool — is now everyone’s challenge. From retailers and financial firms to school districts, cities, and entire countries, the race for talent — and the risk of getting left behind — is real. 

Maybe you’re a company looking to launch a new app, an enterprise looking to enhance business intelligence, a university or hospital in need of cybersecurity expertise, or a firm that needs a software project developed — but you just don’t have the resources to do it 

in-house. How can you scale efficiently when you want top quality results, but the people you need to do the job either have a Silicon Valley price tag or simply don’t exist in your region? 

Talent has no boundaries 

Since the developed world’s overnight plunge into remote work during Covid, tech leaders have realized they can look anywhere to fulfill a growing number of roles and services. 

For those fighting for the crème de la crème or looking for an alternative to an in-house team, thriving tech scenes and promising talent pools can be tapped across the globe. While India, China, and Eastern Europe may come to mind first when looking for tech solutions abroad, it’s worth noting that the biggest names in US tech are already aggressively recruiting from crowded traditional hubs. Plus, traditional outsourcing can come with downsides like language and cultural barriers, inconvenient time zone differences, cybersecurity threats, political instability and intellectual property concerns — all of which can cause delays and introduce risk. Additionally, cost savings in these markets often come at the expense of workers in these regions, from unacceptably low wages to lax labor laws that put workers in harm’s way. 

By exploring a less competitive market, with equally skilled workers, you can increase your chances of finding the specialized talent and services you need, faster and more affordably.

But how do you avoid the downsides? 

It means thinking about smart nearshoring instead of offshoring to the lowest bidder, wherever they may be. And it means thinking beyond recruiting individuals, especially from high-risk regions with questionable human rights records, and looking to countries that have a consolidated ecosystem, a progressive, equitable society, and are top notch global technology players in every way. Think such a country doesn’t exist? Then you haven’t been introduced to Uruguay

Latin America’s hottest destination for tech 

Uruguay may have more cattle than people, but it’s success isn’t limited to its booming agricultural exports. In fact, it’s the second richest country in South America — and a dynamic hub for some of the best tech talent in the world, generating $1.5 billion in tech exports per year. 

Despite its small size compared to vast, populous neighbors like Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay ranks highest among all Latin American countries in the United Nations’ information and communication technology (ICT) index, which is a testament to the country’s IT performance and high level of development. With such a fast-growing IT sector—soon to be the driving force behind Uruguay’s entire economy—and a reputation for well-controlled supply chains, it’s apparent why this hotspot is attracting more talent and investment every year. 

Summing up its virtues as a formidable tech hub, President Leonardo Loureiro of Cuti (Uruguayan Chamber of IT) explains, “Uruguay is one of the most progressive and stable countries in The Americas. It is a leader in human development and global education indexes, and it’s thriving technology sector accommodates the likes of TCS, Oracle, Google, and IBM as well as innovative startups that rival the best in Silicon Valley. One example is d-Local, Uruguay’s first Unicorn, which Nasdaq recently valued at 9 billion USD.” 

Much of the rapid rise of the nation’s tech talent can be attributed to the fact that the Uruguayan government dedicates almost 4.5% of its budget to education, providing free education for all, from primary school to university level. Determined to blaze a new way forward, Uruguay was one of the first countries to promote the “One Laptop Per Child” initiative, which aimed to distribute educational devices to the developing world. Plus, it currently gives more than 30,000 students access to advanced subjects like robotics and computer science, which is fueling interest in STEM subjects. 

“For more than 30 years, promoting Information Technologies has been a state policy in Uruguay,” says Cuti VP of Global Markets Carlos Acle. “By generating public policies that are aligned with the tech sector, such as the promotion of tech exports, establishing a tech consulate in San Francisco, building advanced communications infrastructure nationwide complete with fiber optics and LTE, and putting strong emphasis on STEM education and opportunities, Uruguay has become an innovation leader.” 

With such a strong educational pipeline and an institutional ecosystem that links entrepreneurs, companies, global partners and talent, Uruguay is fostering stunning technological growth, collaboration and best practices, while bringing top tech solutions to organizations around the world. 

The benefits of doing business with Uruguay 

As technical talent markets get tighter in the US and required skills get more specialized across sectors, companies need more options for recruitment. There are critical gaps to fill, and the deep pool of software engineers, data scientists, developers, machine learning and cybersecurity experts, and other valuable tech talent available in Uruguay could be pivotal to building an incredible tech team or accessing the high-level services you need, whether you’re a startup or a leading global firm. 

“Uruguay is a natural fit for companies in the US,” asserts Cuti VP of Innovation Juan Ciapessoni. “First, there is already a fruitful and long-established tech relationship between the two countries. For example, Uruguay is the largest software exporter per capita in South America — and 70% of it goes to the US. Uruguay also has its own Tech Consulate in Silicon Valley. Further, having produced its own Unicorns, such as dLocal and PedidosYa, and with global heavyweights like Microsoft, TCS, Globant, Oracle, Mercado Libre, Google and BASF bringing their operations to the country or establishing delivery centers there, the maturity and quality of the market is proven.” 

From a cost standpoint, average rates are estimated to be half of US rates, so significant cost savings are highly likely for those seeking partnership and services in Uruguay. It’s also worth noting that software exports and related services are tax-free. 

In terms of time zone convenience, Uruguay is just 3 hours behind GMT or only 2 hours ahead of EST. As such, communication in real time can easily be arranged and collaboration and problem-solving can happen quickly. 

While language and cultural barriers can pose a problem for companies looking to hire in markets like China, Uruguay’s progressive, easy-going culture and multilingual workers are a key advantage. English, for example, “is a must-have in every tech-related job description in Uruguay,” says Acle. Whether you’re looking to recruit expat tech wizards for the long term, bring on high-caliber people for short-term “tours of duty,” collaborate remotely with a talented team or forge a strategic partnership, Uruguay presents rich possibilities. 

Tapping resources abroad to expand your team or get the high quality services you need doesn’t have to be complicated or cost prohibitive. Think about what makes sense for your company in terms of what’s needed to accelerate near-term growth and how to position strategically for long-term success. Evaluate where you want to invest, hone in on roles and service requirements that might be easier to fulfill by looking abroad, and allocate resources to specialized areas where talent is simply not readily available domestically. 

The future — and fortune — of all organizations is increasingly tied to the strength, diversity and competency of its tech talent and partners. To get some of the world’s best on your team, test Uruguay. 

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About Cuti: 

Cuti is the Chamber of Information and Communication Technologies companies in Uruguay. Currently composed of more than 390 companies that offer products and services to more than 52 markets, its mission is to promote the development and growth of the technology industry in Uruguay.