Puerto Rico’s 1st IT sector study reveals growth potential
Puerto Rico’s information technology industry generated nearly 3,000 jobs this year, split among 55 of the largest companies doing business on the island. On average, tech employees earned $41,000 a year for their expertise, according to some of the findings of a study released Monday jointly by Microsoft and the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co.
The Puerto Rico Information Technology Industry study, the first of its kind developed for the island, showed a sector with major growth potential that requires knowing its challenges and opportunities, “so that it becomes one of Puerto Rico’s economic growth engines,” said Marco Casarín, general manager of Microsoft, during a round table held Monday.
The study also showed that tech sector jobs have increased at a rate of 2 percent annually, with the largest jump in 2009, when growth was at 3 percent. It is estimated that the total number of sector jobs — combining large and small companies — is of 3,650.
Of that total, 38 percent of the workforce is female, which exceeds the National Center for Women in Technology’s 26 percent estimate for the U.S. mainland. Productivity per employee reached $350,000, the study conducted by local firm Estudios Técnicos showed.
Meanwhile, the aggregate sales volume of these companies combined is of $1.02 billion. Of that total, 22 percent are the result of exports from Puerto Rico.
“The IT sector, precisely because it is an enabling technology, has to be the foundation on which to build a sustainable economic development in the near future,” said Estudios Técnicos Inc. Chairman Joaquín Villamil.
“An additional reason why the sector should receive priority attention in Puerto Rico’s economic future is the immense wealth of human and social capital that it incorporates,” he said.
Estudios Técnicos spent three months collecting data from more than 60 leading information technology companies. The goal was to map out the industry’s landscape to transform and position the island as a global leader in information technology.
“Puerto Rico has a significant base of information technology-related industries and to ensure that we continue to grow that base, we’re supporting the link-up of big companies like Microsoft with emerging local companies that can benefit from a business relationship like this and contribute to the island’s economic growth,” Pridco Executive Director Antonio Medina said.
Overall, the study showed that the ecosystem has the potential to become a new way to bring money into the economy with the development of software, applications for smartphones, vehicles, social interaction, games and complete systems for process management in the public and private sectors, among others. The greatest potential lies in the ability to export these goods globally with very little investment, executives said.