Latin American offshoring drives gains amid crisis

by Dave

On the sixth floor of one of Managua’s only high rises, young men and women spend hours on the phone in fast-flowing English. Televisions flash MTV and soccer, and walls of windows give a sweeping view of the city’s volcano-rimmed lake.

Calling in are customers from across the U.S. with questions about their mobile phone service. Every day, the slick new contact center, run by Tennessee-based outsourcing vendor Sitel, takes 15,000 calls.

Offshoring has brought Latin America thousands of similar sites in the last few years, as multinational clients tap the region’s cheap labor, good English and newly stable economies.

Now, the world financial crisis is speeding that trend, driving companies to further cut costs while the resurgent dollar makes hiring overseas more affordable.

For Latin America, the sector’s rise promises to reduce reliance on volatile commodity exports and to generate seed money to fuel future growth. And the customer service, technology and administrative jobs it is creating offer many a new ticket to the middle class.

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