The strategy is people-centered and their abilities are a decisive factor

The hiring of new technicians by companies and providers has re activated the market. Sunday newspaper ads are rife with job offers, besides promotions for all kinds of products.  After some drought years, the frequent search for programmers, analysts and other positions related to computing services is a sign of re-activation in a market that had been transformed into a firing market during the crisis.  Just as 2002 was the downsizing year, among the main providers and corporate IT structures, 2004 could be the year of recovery.

This phenomenon, which in Argentinaresulted in 12,000 new positions, according to data provided by IERAL (Institute for the Study of the Argentine and Latin American Reality), is not only a domestic one. As part of a study carried out by Tom Pohlman with Natalie Lambert, analysts at Forrester Research, during the second quarter of this year, the research company made a survey among IT decision-makers in North American companies. Only 21% of large companies were actively hiring IT staff, whereas the trend reached 42% in the SMB segment. Forrester’s survey covered 867 officers responsible for technology in North American companies and their staffing plans. The firms hiring most staff are finance and insurance firms: 28 per cent of them are currently hiring, in comparison with the utilities and telecommunciations industry, where only 14 per cent of firms are hiring.

Susana Monteverde, director of Recursos Action, a company that combines the selection of computing human resources with software distribution and implementation, agrees with the idea that there is a domestic re-activation, which is basically related to three main pillars: E-commerce, with Java, .Net and other products that allow for web development, “since from now on everything is going that way”.
Another segment is SAP. “In 2000 many companies chose to buy a new package and this was SAP; as it was a new development, there were not many specialized professionals. In addition, new modules were added and that is why they are the most demanded in the market, from programmers to technicians, consultants and experts”. As regards everything related to e-mail, “Today, if your e-mail account doesn’t work it is as upsetting as having your phone out of service. In the past, companies focused on the high availability of high production; today, they need high availability for e-mail servers”. Stability. A stable market is, without any doubt, one of the engines for the hiring of new employees. Monteverde acknowledges that there is a market need. “New positions have been created; and we are selecting more requests at all levels for different companies”. And this has nothing to do with current circumnstances, or with creating something temporary, but with new growth factors, especially in oil and telco companies. There is a real and not a temporary growth in adapting to reality and being confident”.

In contrast to the pre-crisis market, companies are not subcontracting as much as they used to, according to the opinion of this consulting firm.  “Today companies are more confident and they are hiring their staff into permanent positions. In the past, the fact that subcontractors hired their employees on a permanent basis or not went unnoticed. Today they ask for a labor relationship since this inspires confidence and a sense of continuance. In the past, the relationship was of a temporary nature, today there is a future vision; this is the situation in the IT industry”, the consulting firm explains. Furthermore, in their work entitled “Argentina: de expulsar trabajadores a exportar trabajo. Ideas para incentivar el empleo formal dentro de la estrategia de crecimiento” (Argentina: from firing workers to exporting work. Ideas to encourage formal employment within a growth strategy), Jorge Vasconcelos and Hernán Rufo, of Fundación Mediterránea, endorse this concept. “The improvement in the human resources of  companies is practicable in the case of long-term relationships, because only in this case is it convenient for both the company and the employee to invest in human resources. Informal labor relationships are characterized by a high degree of staff turnover, i.e.,  three times higher than  in the case of formal relationships. An entrepreneur would not invest money in employee training if he knew that half of his staff would be removed in less than a year. Thus, human capital and capital are complemented in formal labor relationships”. Mariana Katz, Human Development manager of ATS, begs to differ. Out of 100 individuals currently employed by ATS, 25% are new employees. The company has commercial offices inArgentina and Brazil, it has coverage over the whole region, and provides products and solutions supported by the SensIT platform, adding value to fixed and mobile telephone networks.

“The strategy is people-centered and their abilities are a decisive factor. In 2001 we had support, the company was and is financially sound, and this allowed the directors to continue with their vision of taking care of the team, without reducing salaries and maintaining the same staff. Over the last two years we invested in training and in planning the commercial strategy so that, when the market opened, we could make headway”, Katz explains. But they did not stop there, they also added processes to the software development in order to meet CMM3, “to be one step ahead when the market began opening”. A new marketing division in the company is yet another sign of the company’s search for expansion. As for every other small exporting company, doing international business is a constant challenge.  Katz explains this by stating that “ATS tried to consolidate as an organized company, also making a big difference in the quality of its managers, and supporting training, considering that standing on an equal footing with international companies demands a huge effort. Another fundamental  pillar is to continue working with high-performance teams, one of the distinctive features of our staff, as well as acting fast and providing high-quality support”.