Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 6th 2015 Contents A39
Thursday, August 6, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
CARACAS---Headhunters across Latin America are
tapping Venezuela for low-cost professionals as a
deepening economic crisis has left many skilled
workers earning less money than taxi drivers and
Highly-trained Venezuelans are seeking to escape
a decaying socialist economy in which they often have
to work second jobs and spend hours in line to buy
basic goods such as milk or diapers.
Apple (AAPL.O) software developer Hector Ghi-
naglia, 24, was earning about $130 a month at the
black market exchange rate until he was recruited
through LinkedIn (LNKD.N).
"One day a message appeared offering me work,"
said Ghinaglia, who was offered $900 a month plus
the cost of his flight and visa to work in Colombia.
He is happy with the move despite the higher cost
of living there.
The most sought-after professionals include IT
experts who face few opportunities in Venezuela s
withering private sector and oil and gas engineers
loathe to work for state-run PDVSA, which under late
socialist leader Hugo Chavez became focused on social
development projects rather than operational effi-
"If we re looking to fill a special position, such as
a geologist or a specialisation in oil or gas, Venezuela
is a strong option for us," said Claudio Fernaud, the
managing director of Stanton Chase s operation in
Headhunters have in the past targeted Latin Amer-
ican countries at times of economic crises, including
Argentina in the early 2000s and Brazil in the 1980s.
Particularly destructive to salaries in Venezuela is
the collapse of the bolivar currency, which has left an
iPhone costing several months worth of an executive s
Currency controls peg the bolivar at 6.3 per dollar
but the black market rate governs much of the economy
and is now at 687 bolivars per dollar, having weakened
from 173 bolivars at the start of 2015.
"Everybody is looking for payment in hard currency:
dollars, pounds, euros---anything but bolivars," said
Leonardo Lacruz, the Venezuela director of multina-
tional headhunter Korn/Ferry, adding he has seen
"desperation" among executives to leave the coun-
"People do the math and realise they re making
The Panama branch of Stanton Chase said it receives
30 to 40 resumes per day from Venezuela compared
with just one a day from Colombia.
Local businesses are unable to keep salaries in line
with rising consumer prices, let alone pay qualified
professionals at rates that compete with neighbouring
These firms constantly worry that their skilled tech-
nicians will be poached, said Juan Carlos Dao, president
of Bancaribe, one of the country s top 10 banks.
"It s a tragedy that s very hard to deal with," Dao
said in an interview earlier this year. "This is happening
to everybody, to all the major corporations in the
In turn, foreign companies have little incentive to
hire in Venezuela due to price controls that force some
to sell at a loss and currency controls that leave them
unable to repatriate revenue.
Steady devaluations of the bolivar have caused bil-
lions of dollars in balance sheet losses for multinationals
ranging from General Motors to Energizer.
Around five per cent of Venezuela s population of
30 million has left the country since Chavez came to
power in 1999, said Caracas-based sociologist Tomas
Paez, who has published papers and books on migra-
The government denies the country is losing talent
but it does not offer statistics on how many leave.
In this July 31 file photo, a Polar beer
vendor makes his last weekend
delivery to a liquor store in Caracas,
Venezuela. Starting Monday, at least
two of Polar's six beer plants is closing
temporarily for lack of ingredients,
affecting 2 per cent of beer production
in a country with one of the highest
beer consumption rates in the world.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro
blames food and goods shortages on an
economic war waged by opposition
aligned companies, while economists
point to the country's price controls
since 2003. AP PHOTO
talent amid crisis
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