Economic growth in Panama and the works of a series of large projects have raised the interest of foreigners who come to work in the country.
According to data from the Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development (Mitradel) 11,037 work permits was granted to foreigners in 2011 , about 1,063 more permits than in 2010 (10,224).
"This phenomenon is happening because large multinational companies are setting up offices in Panama, and staff are not qualified, and they see the need to bring staff from their countries of origin, recognizes Felix Cuevas, president of the Association of Panamanian Business Executives (Apede)," according to martesfinanciero.com.
A real example of the situation are some the companies in the area of Pacific Panama (APP).
Olmedo Alfaro, manager of the project, said the Panamanian workforce is 90%, except in special cases such as in aircraft maintenance where there is not enough skilled local labor. For this reason the APP together with the Technological University of Panama (UTP) have established an aggressive plan to prepare full scholarships for a thousand aviation mechanics that will be needed in the next 10 years.
Another case is in the technology sector. "The Panamanian Chamber of Information Technology and Telecommunications (Capatec) requires about 15,000 computer programmers this year until 2015. Also, the logistics sector has raised the need for 6,000 places of employment due to growth in activity which includes the expansion of ports on the Atlantic and Pacific," reads the article.
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The Net Employment Outlook for the first three months of 2012 is +24%, putting more pressure on a market with a serious shortage of qualified human resources.
While efforts are being made to the train people locally, foreigners continue to come into the country to meet the demand of international companies based there.
The government of Panama has reduced from seven to two years the timespan for granting Permanent Resident immigration status to professionals in the country.
As explained by the Director of Immigration, Javier Carrillo, the measure seeks to reduce the timeframe and make the process easier.
Work permits to foreigners have increased 24.4% in the first two months of 2010.
1.220 permits were issued between January and February 2010, 24,4% more than in the same period of 2009, when 980 permits were granted.
“Jaime Bocanegra, consulting director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said that companies will pile on the pressure, especially multinational corporations, as there are not enough skilled workers in Panama”.
The government will put in place a training center to address the lack of qualified labor in the country.
Such initiative will be executed by the National Training Institute for Human Development and the Panama Pacifico Agency (APP).
Olmedo Alfaro, manager of APP, expressed his concern over the “lack of technical staff, capable of supplying the needs of transnational companies located in this economic area”.