Lots of jobs, too few qualified applicants
If you are looking for a business to start in Panama, you might want to consider a trade school.
Panama has a welcoming attitude towards foreigners who want to set up business in the country. Its attractive visa and tax incentives have brought in many new businesses from the tourism industry, technology, and investment sectors. However, this business boom has contributed to a shortage of skilled labor, especially bilingual employees, and open positions are proving difficult to fill.
Panama’s economy continues to grow at a pace of at least 8-10% every year and new business contributes a tremendous amount of revenue. Panamanian laws, however stipulate that 90% of a company’s workforce must be comprised of Panamanian citizens, foreign individuals married to Panamanians, or foreign individuals who have resided in the country for ten or more years. Although there are some exceptions and waivers available, these rules have proven problematic for businesses which require labor pools with specific skill sets.
Help is needed by the government and private businesses to provide the education and resources required to turn this situation around. There are tremendous opportunities for companies which can provide technical and trade education. There is also strong support for rescinding the 90% requirement.
Fortunately the current president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, is a successful businessman and self-made millionaire himself. He understands the issues and is taking steps to improve the education system, including providing laptops for students and teaching English as a second language.
Much more is still needed, though, and private technical and trade schools will be part of the answer. There is a void of schools that prepare students for careers in the tourism, hospitality, and technical fields. Bartenders, chefs, welders, electricians, mechanics, nurses, and computer operators are among the fields in huge demand.
It will take time to establish and to train future employees. Qualified manpower must be available for business if economic growth is to continue in Panama.