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Demand for Skilled ICT Workers Growing in Latin America, Lack of Qualified Professionals Poses Challenge for the Region

Study reveals gap of 296,200 networking professionals in the region by 2015, a gap of 35 percent between supply and demand; Unavailability of skilled professionals may limit the opportunities countries have to adopt technology and thus accelerate economic growth, improve productivity, and create new jobs; - Increasing the number of skilled ICT professionals needs to be a policy priority across Latin America

MIAMI, March 7, 2013. - The demand in Latin America for workers skilled in information and communications technology (ICT) will surpass supply nearly 35 percent by the year 2015, according to a new IDC study commissioned by Cisco, creating a gap that could impact the competitiveness of countries in the region. 

The Networking Skills Gap Latin America study analyzed the availability of skilled ICT professionals in Latin America between 2011 and 2015. In 2011, Latin America was lacking approximately 139,800 professionals with networking skills (those needed to plan, design, manage and support the networking technologies in an organization), with this number projected to increase to 296,200 by 2015. These figures represent a skills gap (calculated as a proportion of total demand) of 27 percent in 2011 and 35 percent in 2015.

"A skilled workforce is a competitive advantage for countries in the 21st-century knowledge-based economy. As Latin America experiences the rapid emergence of new technology trends like cloud, mobility, video and the Internet of Everything, this skills gap presents a real challenge for the region's economic development. Without the adequate skills, technological progress does not translate into productivity growth," said Jordi Botifoll, president for Cisco in Latin America.

"An ample, vibrant community of skilled ICT professionals is fundamental for Latin America's companies in order to incorporate advanced technologies in their productive processes. It will lead to an improvement in productivity and consequently enable them to compete effectively in the world market," said Andres Maz, executive director for Advanced Technology Policy at Cisco.

"The study of Latin America trends shows an increasing need for people with networking skills in our region. Well-trained teams focused on higher value-added activities are necessary to align technology demand with the business and create value for the organization. But at the same time, unavailability of skilled professionals may hinder the ability to extract value from technology," said Ricardo Villate, Vice President of Research and Consulting for IDC Latin America.

The demand for networking skills in Latin American is motivated by the following trends:

  • Demand for greater efficiencies within the IT infrastructure, with virtualization as the cornerstone
  • Rapid ICT adoption by governments and the private sector
  • The proliferation of connected devices
  • Requirements for the network to support interactive (video) and virtualized ICT-supported business applications
  • Increasing demand for cloud- or host-based networking across multiple enterprise technologies as an emerging network and services offering
  • An emerging community of entrepreneurs in the ICT space

Key findings from the study

  • In 2011, the shortage was of approximately 139,800 professionals with networking skills across Latin America with this number increasing to 296,200 by 2015. These figures represent a skills gap (calculated as a proportion of total demand) of 27 percent in 2011 and 35 percent in 2015.
  • Core networking skills like network security, IP telephony, and wireless networking represented 55 percent of the total professional skills gap in 2011 and will account for 44 percent in 2015. There was a shortage of around 76,800 professionals in 2011, increasing to 129,100 in 2015. These figures represent a similar skills gap of 22 percent in 2011 and 25 percent in 2015.
  • The rapid adoption of networking technologies by organizations throughout the region is continuously driving demand for these skills, causing the gap to widen at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14 percent from 2011 to 2015.
  • Emerging networking technology skills such unified communications, video, cloud computing, mobility and data center and virtualization, represented 45 percent of the total professional skills gap in 2011, growing to 56 percent in 2015. Within this group of skills, the study estimated a shortage of skilled people of around 63,000 professionals in 2011, increasing to 167,100 in 2015. These figures represent a projected incremental skills gap of 42 percent in 2011 and 53 percent in 2015. As these technologies ramp up and gain a stronger foothold within Latin American organizations, the demand for these skills will cause the gap to widen at a CAGR of 28 percent from 2011 to 2015. 
  • Of the respondents, 80 percent expected to need multiple technology skills. In 2007, 70 percent of respondents indicated the need for multiple technology skills. Therefore an increase of 10 percentage points over responses from five years ago is noted.
  • Certifications play an important role in organizations for more than 75 percent of the companies interviewed. Organizations view vendor-based certifications as an important attribute when assessing potential staff to fill networking-related positions. Of those surveyed, 49 percent said that those certifications are "very important," while 28 percent found them "important."
  • As the outsourcing trend is growing stronger in Latin America, a growing number of companies will obtain new networking skills from a service provider rather than training internal staff. In this sense, 62 percent of companies found it "very important" for service providers to have certified staff, while another 29 percent of respondents say they consider this to be "important."
  • One quarter (25 percent) of the respondents stated that they have hired networking professionals in the past 12 months.
  • A significant proportion of organizations (27 percent) across the eight countries surveyed found it difficult to find networking engineers who have the right skill set to meet their organizational requirements. The primary reason they find it difficult is the cost associated with hiring skilled networking staff. The second reason is the difficulty in assessing the quality of the applicants.
  • Security skills positions are the most difficult to fill. This is because security skills are increasingly in greater demand throughout the eight geographies analyzed.  Eight-seven percent of the companies agreed that they will need extra skills in this area in the next 12-24 months.

Study methodology

IDC conducted 767 interviews in eight countries in Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. Interviews were segmented by vertical industry and size segments: government, education, health care, telecoms, financial services, manufacturing, retail/wholesale, media/broadcasting/publishing, travel/transportation/distribution, resources and services in companies with more than 100 employees. Respondents were selected based on their responsibility for network infrastructure and management of professionals involved in network design, operation & maintenance, deployment, and support. The survey was conducted in the native language of the respondents (Spanish and Portuguese). Results from this survey were analyzed in conjunction with data from several ongoing IDC research practices around networking and information technologies.

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Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow by proving that amazing things can happen when you connect the previously unconnected. For ongoing news, please go to http://thenetwork.cisco.com.

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