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Salcajá turns into a “Smart City”

During the end of 2017, AGEXPORT launched a project to promote investments of exporting firms outside the Metropolitan area. The project is being developed and coordinated by AGEXPORT’s Competitiveness division and identified a total of 12 municipalities all over Guatemala, one of them being the Salcaja municipality in Quetzaltenango.

As part of this project, AGEXPORT’s Digital Development commission (SOFEX) is currently helping Salcaja build a Smart City. Our main contribution is through our “Digital Talent” program, with which we will develop the necessary knowledge and cognitive capacities to produce export-quality software and digital products in the area. Afterwards, we expect to offer labor opportunities in Salcaja, preventing further immigration to the Metropolitan area or even outside Guatemala. Our leading companies are already producing a large quantity of software and digital content from different points of Guatemala and in 2017 only exported a total of US$380 million, said Mr. Juan Carlos Rodriguez, Vice President of AGEXPORT’s SOFEX division.

The “Digital Talent” project plans to help teens and young professionals to learn about software development, social media management, operating systems, database management, programming, information security, designing and developing websites and mobile apps and animation. Following their training, the program looks to employ these new professionals on the digital areas they were trained for. The program will also look to implement innovations in the industry to expand an already successful market of more than 8,000 local clients and 4,000 clients in Latin America, the United States, Canada and some Asian and European countries.

“Digital Talent” was created to close the existing gap between the labor demands in the technology industry and the reduced number of talent available with the required knowledge to fill these positions. The goal of this project and of our SOFEX commission is to generate more than 3,500 direct jobs and more than 27,000 indirect jobs related to the Technology Information industry, said Mr. Rodriguez.

The software-development industry, and specially on companies exporting abroad, offer attractive advantages for workers, such as a premium salary of 2 or 3 times the minimum wage, additional benefits and access to professional growth opportunities. Industry leaders have also remarked that the TI industry is one of the industries with higher growth potential in Guatemala.

Since 2016, we have used the Growth Road Map for the Digital Industry, designed by AGEXPORT’s Competitiveness division, as our guidance to create and execute our own programs. This Road Map focuses on investing in human capital and it is the main pillar of our “Digital Talent” program with which we expect to train 300 high school and university students as well as 100 young workers of our industry and 50 professors, for which we have partnered with education centers and universities. Added to that, we have also focused in promoting this industry, which is why we organized the Guatemala Tech Summit. This event will take place in October and will boost the competitiveness of TI companies by exchanging knowledge and experiences with industry leaders, said Mr. Jorge Mario Godoy, member of SOFEX’s Directory Board.

The Guatemala Tech Summit seeks to display the enormous potential of this industry in Guatemala, as well as current employment opportunities and innovation possibilities. The event will also focus on new trends and technologies being implemented both on for education purposes or for businesses. The event will also be the perfect opportunity for networking among business leaders.

This event will take place on October 5 at Hotel Barceló in Guatemala City and will gather national and regional digital businesses as well as display innovative entrepreneurships during its Tech Projects Pitch.