Global IT services’ consultancy Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is getting something right in Latin America.
The region was TCS’ highest market of growth in Q3 for the financial year 2022 report against the same quarter in the previous financial year, at 21.1%.
Besides aggressive expansion that has seen the tech giant open in Guatemala – the first time it has set foot in Central America – a large part of the successful strategy is the company’s obsession with talent development, believes Ximena Jofre, TCS’ HR Head for Latin America.
“Talent development is one of the most important organizational competencies of TCS. Indeed, I believe it is a differentiator against our competitors,” Jofre told Nearshore Americas in a recent exclusive interview.
“We have a democratic view about our talent, and how our talent – with the right inspiration, tools and support – can move to the next level. This is a strong value we hold across the globe, not only Latin America.”
Educational Efforts Grow Retention
The severe talent drought, and pandemic-propelled digital transformation efforts of much of the world’s business community, has pushed the retention of staff to the fore. No longer is retention a way to keep tenured and valued professionals on board. As reported by Nearshore Americas last year, retention is now “extremely high priority” for all IT players.
TCS’ is ratcheting its educational offerings as part of its retention play. At a time when 89% of the company’s Latin America 20,000 plus workforce are still working from home, this engagement is vital.
“The pace of change is absolutely different to the pre-pandemic period. And we need to move fast to keep relevant,” Jofre explained.
Through an assortment of links with education websites and LinkedIn, the company offers three main programs for IT professionals at each stage of their careers. For juniors, education focuses primarily on enhancing their digital skills. At the mid-senior level are encouraged to develop an area of specialization, while a mid-level transformation plan helps reignite the careers of those who’ve been at the company for over 10 years but who have not updated their skills.
“The message is that they need to keep relevant and learn new skills that the market is demanding. They must add value to themselves, and also our clients,” Jofre said.
Soft skills are a vital and often missing component for tech workers. The Aspire program, a pre-engagement program intended to get new recruits up and running, addresses this gap.
“To really understand our clients’ needs and be a good partner for them, soft skills are needed,” said Jofre.
“When an employee is defining a role in the Aspire program, they are given a path of learning that must be followed to close the gap between their current role and the one they aspire. These paths always include both tech skills and soft skills. Having soft skills is becoming ever more relevant in aiding clients.”
“We are shifting from a country focus to a Latin America-wide focus. This will be done this year, and will help us increase the impact of our educational programs, including how we can encourage more girls and women to participate in IT fields” — Ximena Jofre
The focus on staff development appears to be paying off. The company was recently recognised as a ‘Top Global Employer’ in 2022, the seventh year in a row that the company has received the accolade, and retention figures underline this. The company’s 2Q21 report stated that it had an attrition rate of just 11.9%, which it claims is the lowest in the IT industry.
“Linking the belief of allowing people to learn with giving them opportunities definitely aids higher retention,” said Jofre.
Room for Growth in Latin America
TCS’ involvement in Latin America can certainly grow. The company employs just over 20,000 in the region, representing just 4% of its 500,000 employees world-wide.
The company has a range of CSR initiatives to combat this deficit, among them the goIT program to build computer skills, and the regionally-specific ENABLE program, a voluntary initiative to educate underprivileged communities in aspects of the digital economy. Almost 100,000 have benefited from these programs, according to company data.
But there are areas where the region can improve and enhance the prospects of tech-oriented industries.
“In Mexico alone we expect to hire more than 1,000 trainees in the next six months” — Ximena Jofre
“There is no regional body that brings together the common challenges in the region. Each country tends to have its own NGOs and a local focus on their own gaps in digital access. Without this body it can be very difficult for companies to ally themselves and amplify the benefits of the program,” said Jofre.
TCS will adapt its educational efforts to avoid this silo-like consequence and deliver a more comprehensive impact, Jofre explained.
“We are shifting from a country focus to a Latin America-wide focus. This will be done this year, and will help us increase the impact of our educational programs, including how we can encourage more girls and women to participate in IT fields,” she said.
These programs will flow directly into hiring targets.
“In Mexico alone we expect to hire more than 1,000 trainees in the next six months. In Latin America, that number will be around 4,000 trainees in 2023. Some of those will be hired from the initiatives we have in place with communities and universities,” she added.
The Future of Work
Looking towards the future of work also falls within HR’s remit.
The company first announced its 25/25 Hybrid Work Plan in 2020. The intention behind it is to have only 25% of the workforce in the office at any given moment, offering far greater remote work opportunities. Aside from likely savings in overheads and flexibility in the use of existing office space, the plan will give employees what seems to be the primary desire of office workers worldwide: more time working from home.
In Latin America, certain infrastructural restrictions must always be considered, and as Jofre points out, governments must provide legal structures for remote work. She compares the dawn of mass remote working to the birth of disruptor companies like Uber; lawmakers must catch up.
“The different governments need to define strong labor frameworks. The tax aspect of those frameworks is also important for remote work, because it often isn’t easy to work from one place for a company based in another country. Internet connectivity and digital security are also important factors. These are the areas that need to grow,” she said.