Panama heading for a skills shortage, especially in infrastructure

by Ray Clancy on November 16, 2010

Panama heading for a skills shortage

Employment prospects for expats in Panama and those wishing to move there is likely to soar in 2011 as the country heads for a skills shortage, it is claimed.

Some 34 major infrastructure projects are getting underway and are creating 34,000 direct jobs, according to government officials. Initially they are looking for skilled workers in the construction industry.

The construction of the first Metro line in the country in Panama City will employ some 3,000 people from 2011 to 2013. Work also begins next year on the third set of locks for the Panama Canal extension, needing some 6,000 workers.

According to analysts and experts in the labour market, it is likely that by 2013 demand will exceed supply. Consultants Insight Economy said in a report that from 2011 there will be a bottleneck and then 2014 will be a critical year.

A large-scale recruitment drive abroad is expected as other new projects, including a new tower block for the government’s finance ministry, come on stream.

Other employment sectors are also struggling to find staff. Last month a report from Manpower Panama identified a severe skills shortage. It said that 38% of employers in Panama have difficulty filling key positions within their organizations.

Manpower said that the most difficult jobs to fill are technicians, sales managers, secretaries, personal assistants, administrative assistants and administrative support personnel, accounting and finance staff.

Overall Manpower predicts that most sectors will be recruiting more in 2011. ‘Optimism among Panamanian employers is growing at a promising pace, reflecting the confidence they have gained in the aftermath of the global market downturn,’ said María Luisa Rocha, Operations Director of Manpower Mexico, Central America and Dominican Republic.

One UK recruitment agency is considering opening an office in South America. Newcastle-based Nigel Wright Recruitment plans to open on the continent after securing funding from US based Baird Capital Partners Europe.

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