Nearshore Americas
nearshore talent

The Biggest Lie Circulating in the Nearshore Industry, and How to Overcome It

What’s the one thing that most Nearshore professionals get wrong on a routine basis?

Before revealing the answer, let’s take a step back and assess how one determines when a market has reached ‘saturation’. This is a word that has been thrown around to describe hot BPO markets like Nicaragua, Jamaica, Colombia, and even certain cities in Mexico.

But what is the science behind these claims, and who exactly do we trust when determining whether a market is no longer ideal for expanding current operations or establishing Greenfield centers?

Therein exists what we consider to be the biggest lie reverberating from board rooms in North America to delivery centers in the Nearshore: the freely applied myth that not enough professionals are available in any given market to meet current demand.

This lie has many branches, but at its root is the commonly held claim that when a certain set of delivery centers open or expand in the host country, new job positions created by those employers will ‘soak up’ the available talent, so BPO and IT services providers should look elsewhere.

One of the key failings within this belief is the argument that the number of available candidates is fixed and won’t change, and that’s where things stop adding up. It’s a bad idea to trust anyone who claims, categorically, that a country – especially one with a population above 5 million residents – is unable to support new IT/BPO positions, unless you are personally aware of deep analysis that has utilized multiple data sources and on-the-ground interviews.

Let’s be honest, the real research is often limited in scope and carried out in countries several time zones away, or, for that matter, on the other side of the world.

To root out the truth and put aside the myths around saturation, we suggest you take the following steps.

Rid yourself and your organization of ‘old tapes’

Things change quickly in the Nearshore, so don’t allow old perceptions to guide today’s decisions. This is probably the most destructive element of the myth making, that individuals seeking quick answers on complex talent acquisition questions want to label specific countries as ‘not scalable’, ‘over-heated’, or just over-priced.

While it’s certainly true that markets enter into these territories, you have to ask how often true, deep-dive examinations are made to arrive at that decision, which brings us to our second step:

Use multiple sources of data

Talent figures can be acquired from service providers, trade and investment agencies, and independent recruitment firms. Most of these entities are more than happy to share this information, but be prepared to find that the numbers may not match what you already have, or indeed what each entity is sharing.

However you uncover the truth about a market, make sure to take a multipronged approach to arrive at your own assessments. Do not rely on just one version of the truth.

Hold mock job fairs

Physically setting foot in the market is a great way to get a sense of the reality and measure it against what you’ve already uncovered or been told.

While you are there, we advise hosting a mock job fair, giving candidates a chance to practice for the real thing, while also allowing your company to see who is available and test assumptions of quality.

Why rely on what other people are telling you when you can find out for yourself?

Recognize the impact of talent development programs

There is no question that some talent development initiatives are more effective than others, and that many BPO training programs have real merit as they churn out increasingly large numbers of new candidates each year.

Despite would-be competitors being responsible for this, the impact has on the market is huge, as the industry’s word-of-mouth reputation becomes stronger and attracts more potential employees, benefiting established companies and interested new entrants.

Measure the diaspora

Whenever studies are conducted on talent availability, there is often little to no consideration of the flow of expats returning to their home county.

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With the current political climate in the United States, many nations in Central and South America are seeing a rise in citizens returning from the States with new skills that can be applied to the industry, such as English language.

Ignoring these numbers, particularly today, is a weakness and should be addressed when scoping out market hiring potential.

Be aware of the myth perpetrators

Mature BPO and IT services markets are the ones that work toward the common development of the entire industry, but there are definitely markets out there where operators simply don’t want anyone else to move in and ‘steal’ their people. Thus, on occasion, false claims are made about the talent conditions of a market to prevent new entrants.

By embarking on a combination of the above techniques and digging up your own evidence, you can avoid one of the industry’s biggest lies and myths, and may find that the warnings you’ve heard about a ‘saturated’ Nearshore market are completely unfounded.

Kirk Laughlin

Kirk Laughlin is an award-winning editor and subject expert in information technology and offshore BPO/ contact center strategies.

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