Latin American Unicorns Are Helping Drive a Regional Hiring Boom

The growth rate of hiring across Latin America for positions like software engineer and account executive has increased by 286% in the second half of 2021, more than in any other region in the world

Vehicles travel along a nearly empty Reforma Avenue past the Angel of Independence monument in an aerial photograph taken over Mexico City.
By Augusta Saraiva
February 10, 2022 | 12:30 PM

Bloomberg — Latin America’s largest startups are helping drive a spike in new higher-skilled jobs in the region, as record investment allows local companies to boost recruiting and look for talent beyond their own borders.

The growth rate of hiring across Latin America for positions like software engineer and account executive has increased by 286% in the second half of 2021, more than in any other region in the world, according to a report focused on tech and remote work by global hiring and payroll company Deel Inc. Most of the new hires are located in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, but competitive wages are also making companies take a closer look at Peru, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.

The jump in hires comes as Latin American startups received a record $15 billion in funding last year, more than triple the previous record. The growth in regional unicorns -- startups valued at $1 billion or more -- hiring within the region is part of the reason for the increase in employment, according to Pepe Villatoro, Deel’s regional head of expansion.

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“It’s exploding,” he said in an interview. “The war for talent is not only with U.S. companies hiring in Latin America, but also Latin American companies more and more in Brazil and Mexico, and in Colombia and Argentina as well.”

Unicorn-Backed Boomdfd

The hiring firm has worked with local unicorns including Brazil’s Nu Pagamentos SA, also known as Nubank, and Creditas Solucoes Financeiras Ltda., Mexico’s Jokr SARL and Clara and Colombia’s Rappi Inc. to hire talent across the region, he said. The study, which is most representative of tech and remote work trends, analyzed data from more than 100,000 work contracts the company arranged in about 150 countries, and included over 500,000 data points from third-party sources.

The number of foreign companies hiring in Latin America also increased 156% in the second half of 2021, more than anywhere else in the world, in part thanks to the possibilities sparked by the shift to remote work. In places such as the Dominican Republic and Argentina, the number of new hires as contractors grew by more than 200%.

With thousands of engineers and developers graduating every year in major markets like Brazil and Mexico, “people that didn’t have access to these opportunities of working with the top companies in the world, because they didn’t live in Silicon Valley, New York or London, now have access to them,” Villatoro said.

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Other key findings from the report:

  • Salaries have also gone up in many Latin American markets since 2019, led by a 57% hike in Mexico -- the world’s largest -- and a 21% increase in Argentina
  • In places like Brazil and Argentina, workers are also increasingly asking to be paid in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum
  • North American companies list Brazil as one of the countries that offer the most appealing salaries
  • Meanwhile, employers from Europe, the Middle East and Africa say they’re mostly interested in salaries from Argentina
  • Global companies hiring internationally through Deel include Pinterest, Coinbase and Dropbox.

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