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Mexico positioned to fill the U.S. engineering talent gap in 2021

Mexico has been a secret weapon for tech companies developing pools of talent outside the U.S. for decades. In the last ten years, Mexico has seen significant growth in STEM education and graduates an average of 130,000 engineers and technicians annually.

In recent years, this talent has sparked innovation domestically with a thriving startup ecosystem in Mexico City. Kavak, a pre-owned vehicle platform, recently became Mexico’s first unicorn with a $1.1B valuation, and Colombian on-demand delivery app Rappi, valued at $3.5B, bases its operations out of Mexico’s capital.

“Mexico has top tech and entrepreneurial talent. The fintech ecosystem, specifically, was virtually non-existent six years ago; it’s now booming,” Juan Guerra, head of Rappipay Mexico at Rappi, said, “A few unicorns are in the making, so watch the space.”

An excellent example of a company harnessing the talent Mexico has to offer is Wizeline; a software development and design services company that builds cloud-native and data-driven digital products and platforms. Wizeline’s customers, primarily Fortune 500 and large multinational enterprises, work with the company to build digital products and platforms by creating high-caliber engineering and design teams.

“When we first started Wizeline, we had our headquarters in San Francisco and our engineering team in Guadalajara, Mexico. Guadalajara has been called the ‘Silicon Valley of Mexico’ for decades given the investments from Intel, Oracle, IBM, HP, and Kodak in the 70s and 80s. In recent years, the tech foundation has sparked a tech startup renaissance,” Bismarck Lepe, founder and CEO of Wizeline, said, “Guadalajara was the start, but now we have over 1,000 Wizeliners across the country in all of the major cities. When we bring tech executives from New York or Palo Alto to any of our offices, they are uniformly blown away by the depth of talent and familiar work culture.”

In 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported that nearly one million tech jobs go unfilled in the U.S. every year, and that number is likely higher now. Even in Silicon Valley, reliable technical talent is hard to find, competitive to hire, and expensive to retain. This talent scarcity has prompted an increasing number of businesses to invest in engineering resources abroad to bridge their skill gaps. 

Image Credits: Wizeline

Proximity, time zone overlap, cultural compatibility, government support, and multilingual tech talent are some of the reasons why Mexico has the most appeal as a nearshore option for American businesses. Tecnológico de Monterrey, one of the most prestigious university systems in Latin America, has had a front-row seat to the positive impact of a growing tech sector for its current students and alumni. 

“For our computer science and technology programs, we have seen employment rates go up 15% from 2013 to 2019. Even more dramatically, we have seen earning potential more than double in the last six years for technology degrees,” Marco de Angel, Regional Director, Employability & Career Development Center at Tecnológico de Monterrey, said, “On the flip side, we do see fewer engineering-minded students pursue traditional university education in favor of learning by experience or through training programs. We partner with companies like Wizeline to expose our students to these more informal education opportunities like technical certification or apprenticeship programs.”

Many companies expect remote work to continue even beyond the pandemic. This shift to “work from anywhere” will likely encourage hiring managers to expand their search beyond zip codes. According to Wizeline, the key is to structure engineering capacity and delivery in a way that makes sense for the business, in a region that makes sense for the team. There is an opportunity to work with talented engineers, data experts, and UX designers worldwide, but nearshoring in Mexico continues to be a strategic move.

“Mexico’s tech talent has played an essential role in both our Mexico-based and U.S.-based portfolio companies,” Roman Leal, Managing Partner at LEAP Global Partners, said, “In fact, our U.S.-based companies have hired nearly 1,000 Mexican employees combined, all of which are receiving competitive wages and stock option packages. And we believe we are just scratching the surface as some of the early domestic success stories (such as Clip, Kavak, Konfio, and Wizeline) will inevitably churn out dozens of future entrepreneurs and inspire thousands of Mexican college students and young professionals to pursue a career in tech.”

According to a 2018 report published by McKinsey, Mexico ranked #55 out of 151 countries evaluated for digital maturity, noting that the country has seen major progress thanks to government initiatives to digitize and modernize infrastructure. The country is poised to quickly improve its digital transformation with a booming startup ecosystem, investments in STEM education, and a large tech-savvy youth population. 

Continuous education and upskilling are core tenets in how Wizeline is able to remain agile to the demands of the ever-changing tech industry. Wizeline Academy, the company’s free technical education program, has taught more than 20,000 students on-campus and virtually via streamed courses. As a philosophy, Wizeline focuses on identifying and developing high-potential talent in Latin America and bringing them into a Silicon Valley-style work environment that prizes customer-centricity and rewards an entrepreneurial spirit. 

Running a business that operates globally? Outside of the Americas, Wizeline has offices in Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Spain, and Australia to align with APAC and EMEA engineering and product teams. If you would like to learn more about working with a nearshore engineering team or about its Agile delivery model, please visit www.wizeline.com or send an email to contact@wizeline.com.