In times where connectivity, complexity, and accelerated transformation are the new business normal, companies are also facing a growing talent problem that can easily become a strategic bottleneck. This is especially true in Latin America, which has the biggest skill gap in the world, where over four in 10 companies have difficulty finding talent.
To put things into perspective, up to 30 to 40 percent of all workers in developed countries may need to move into new occupations or at least upgrade their skill sets significantly over the next 10 years. User Experience (UX) Designer, Social Media Manager, Remote Work Leader, or Big Data Analyst are occupations that didn’t exist before this millennium and are gaining a lot of traction and demand from the market.
Furthermore, the workforce is going through a generational change, where Millennials and Gen Z’s are bringing a new view of what the workplace, workforce, and work is and should be. These two generations currently account for slightly over a third of the workforce (38%) and are expected to represent up to 58% in the next decade.
The Org spoke with Camilo Sarasti, Country Manager for Time Jobs, a Chilean startup that facilitates the hourly hiring process for companies, to get a first hand look into LatAm’s talent gap and understand how startups like his are helping to bridge it. According to him, and other experts on the matter, like Harvard and BCG, the solution is staff on demand.
“Staff on demand is a growing phenomenon worldwide and companies are shifting towards this model every day more and more,” said Camilo. This is not just about getting access to low skilled operational workers through outsourcing as it used to be in the past. It is a strategic action that responds to a new workforce context, where skills are changing faster than ever. New generations are changing the rules of work, and everything is being drastically accelerated by digital technologies (not to mention COVID-19).
Today many companies around the world are using digital talent platforms like Toptal, Catalant, 99designs and Kaggle to hire skilled gig workers. “In an environment of ongoing uncertainty, employers will be even more attracted to the freelance route for a variety of reasons: it makes hiring easier for hard-to-fill jobs, offers access to a wider set of skills, reduces headcount, and allows more flexibility during times of change.” mentioned Camilo.
For Camilo, the talent problem has two major considerations. First is the need for re-skilling in the digital era, where governments, companies, edtechs and educational systems should work together in order to empower workforces with the skills needed to thrive in this interconnected and digital context.
“The way we work will continue to evolve and the educational system will have to adapt to these new realities,” Camilo mentioned. “LatAm countries have to quickly accommodate if they want to be able to compete in a new global service economy.”
The second consideration is a call for better platforms and systems that efficiently match aspirants (offer) with companies (demand). Camilo emphasized that one of the biggest obstacles is the way organizations currently get access to talent: “Companies have to evolve from the traditional model of attracting, developing and retaining talent, that is long and risky - to being able to access the right talent, in the right place, at the right time through agile solutions like staff on demand platforms or crowdsourcing.”
The Org identified five companies in Latin America that are pioneers in the sector and are successfully shaping LatAm’s staff on demand market by facilitating access to the correct pool of candidates and jobs.
Founded in 2009 by Spaniards Juan Urdiales and Felipe Navío, Jobandtalent is now one of the leading digital on demand staffing platforms in the world, with operations in seven countries in Europe and LatAm including Mexico and Colombia.
They describe themselves as a Workforce as a Service (WaaS) whose mission is to give peace of mind to companies and long-term job security to employees. They do this thanks to their proprietary job matching technology, which successfully connects businesses and job seekers in record time. The platform facilitates a variety of tasks, from scheduling shifts to contracts payroll.
The team closed an $88M Series C last year, completing a total of $290M in funding from notable investors like Atomico, Seek, DN Capital and Kibo Ventures. In 2020, more than 80,000 workers used it to secure temporary gigs.
“The staffing market is experiencing a huge transformation that will be accelerated in the upcoming years, moving from brick and mortar traditional structures to data driven platforms that will improve the experience of both workers and employers” Urdiales said in a statement.
Workana is a freelancer search and recruitment platform founded in Argentina in 2012 by Tomás O´Farrell, Guillermo Bracciaforte, Fernando Fornales and Mariano Iglesias. Over the last nine years, the startup has become one of the largest freelance platforms in Latin America. Workana has more than 2.5 million registered freelancers and offers 30,000 monthly new gigs.
In 2018 the startup secured a $10.2M Series C with Seek as its leading investor to continue growing in LatAm and conquer the South Asian market, where they identified similar problems around traditional organizations complaining about the lack of technology professionals in the market, but ignoring the potential of freelancers available to them. The company has already begun operations in Malaysia.
According to the company, in 2020 20% of LatAm’s professionals stated that they sought to be freelancers as an alternative to unemployment, representing a 15% increase compared to 2019.
Torre defines itself as the new professional network reinventing job finding and recruitment for remote and flexible work. Founded in 2019 by Alexander Torrenegra, a serial investor and entrepreneur from Colombia, the company has raised over $7M and is expanding quickly in LatAm and beyond.
The startup uses Artificial Intelligence in the match-making process. Professional profiles are very specific and designed to have hundreds of data points in order to streamline and successfully pair users and companies. Torre users can build their extensive ‘genome’ to find followers, mentors, and jobs; while recruiters have access to Torre’s applicant tracking system (ATS) intended to facilitate the hiring process.
The platform already boasts more than 1.5 million profiles and 200,000 active users per month. In this digital era, “all you need to work is a good internet connection and a computer,” said Alex Torrenegra in an interview.
Timejobs is a Chilean startup created exclusively for part-time job offers. Founded by José Manuel Barros, and Diego Cruzat in 2017, the company exists as a response to the lack of digital solutions available to fulfill part-time operational needs such as warehouse workers, cleaning staff or delivery personnel.
The company raised $3.5M in 2020 to solidify its operations in Perú, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay, Mexico and Colombia. Last year, they assigned more than 200,000 shifts for companies like Walmart, Cencosud and Tottus.
The startup connects 'Jobbers,' their internal nickname for informal workers, with companies looking to quickly and legally fill open shifts. Time Jobs also assists in affiliating workers to health insurance, providing necessary training for the roles and gathering any needed documentation. They aim to have 30,000 ´jobbers´ in their platform by 2022.
As part of YCombinator’s 2021 winter batch, this SaaS company attracted the accelerator's attention with the mission of enabling LatAm’s companies to hire remote workers from anywhere in the world, in a process as easy as ordering delivery from an app. Ontop has the capacity to carry out contracts in compliance with the regulations of more than 150 countries.
“Remote work has unleashed an international hiring boom, especially in LatAm,” said Julian Torres, co-founder of Ontop, in an interview with The Org. “This is mainly because of the fact that our talent has proven to be very good in terms of quality, and up to four times cheaper. Ontop is going to be the enabler of a free and legal flux of talent for and from LatAm.”
With less than a year in operation, Julian and co-founder Santiago Aparicio, have raised $1.3M from H20 and ClockTower Ventures to boost their outstanding monthly growth of 400%. Several of the most prominent startups in LatAm, like Rappi, Ayenda Hoteles, Crehana, and Truora, already use OnTop.
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