Recruiters fill labor void with international talent.

PositionQuality Business Solutions of South Carolina, VensureHR

When SC Biz News called Walter Sabrin, he was in Colombia training recruiters for Quality Business Solutions partner VensureHR.

That's right: Colombia, not Columbia.

"One thing that COVID did do, is it kind of educated America's CEOs that people can work remotely and be effective also," said Sabrin, senior vice president of recruitment at QBS.

That realization dove-tailed with the growth of Colombia's bilingual, college-educated and much cheaper remote workforce.

"Over the past 18 to 24 months, we've exploded," he said about VensureHR's Colombia operation. "We now have about 17,000 employees working for American companies."

Many live in Medelln, Colombia, but on this trip, he was in Barranquilla a two-and-a-half-hour flight away from his office in Miami. Other popular fields for remote work in Colombia include customer service, benefits implementation, executive administration and sales.

"They can now do everything because of the technology out there," he said. "When you think about everything from billing to accounts receivable to helping out with QuickBooks, for calendar-holding, meeting and appointment setting, everything can be done on a remote basis."

And on top of that, remote employees in Colombia are 60% to 70% cheaper on his clients' pocket than domestic talent a move that Sabrin said frees up companies to leverage the benefits and bonuses needed to hire some team members closer to home.

It's no secret that employers are turning to extreme measures to fill their talent needs during what Sabin calls the "year of the resignation," as employers are finding it more difficult than usual to keep people on the payroll.

"The lack of retention certainly has put a lot of pressure" on those people charged with keeping jobs filled, he said.

Some are offering sign-on bonuses or payment just to interview. Others pitch a week's stay at a vacation home, a year-long employment contract or enhanced equity or investment plans.

In South Carolina, the average annual salary of new hires has increased from $32,193 in November 2018 to $33,053 in November 2020 to $38,108 last month.

Still, more than 5,352 South Carolinians received unemployment checks in the last week of November, according to S.C. Department of Labor and Workforce data, and October's unemployment rate hovers around 3.9%.

From November 2018 to November 2021, the number of vacant positions in the state shot up by almost 40%.

"The job hopping is at an...

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