The Portugal nearshore concept was primarily borne out of an IT skill shortage across our portfolio of clients with demand far outweighing supply. Based on our client’s demand the nearshore option was considered across a wide range of European countries. Portugal became the most viable option based on factors outlined below which resulted in the start of the “Portugal Project”
So, what is Nearshore Outsourcing?
Nearshore outsourcing is the practice of getting work done or services performed by people in neighbouring countries rather than an organisation’s own country. As mentioned, we considered most European countries, with Portugal scoring the highest in factors including English language levels, time zone, currency, cost of living, potential talent pool ….plus, well it’s Portugal, famous for its friendly culture and year-round climate.
The discovery phase kicked off in October 2021 with a view to six months of exploring the who, what, where and when’s. Rachael made the move to Portugal, meeting people and tapping into various local networks.
Our first discovery was that we might be a little late due to other established consultancies already mature in the nearshore market and sourcing identical skill sets. However, we quickly realised there was sufficient space for growth given:
- Portugal’s impressive economic growth (year on year growth of 11.9%);
- Hosting of the Dublin-born WebSummit, arguably the largest tech conference in the world;
- The volume of tech start-ups and tech-hub innovation centres;
- The presence of Crypto, Golden Visas, being a digital nomad magnet, and technology being the fastest growing sector in Portugal after Real Estate.
It’s the place to be!
Our second discovery was that talent had a strong desire to be fully remote. Their employers required they return to the office 1 or 2 days a week and consequently, employees were leaving. We saw this as an opportunity, as setting up a physical office would take time, and the demand for resources was immediate.
Thirdly, we learned that Portuguese employment law and the tax system were more complicated than anticipated, and professional help was required in the interim to ensure compliance. As such, we identified a partner company that could assist us with this.
Because we could offer fully remote (or provide the option to use our shared office space network as required) and had a partner that ensured all our legal and contractual obligations were met, we hired our first resource in January 2022 and the project was a go!
We currently have several projects running in Portugal and we are exceeding targets. Rachael is in the process of relocating to Lisbon full time, where she will continue to resource for our strategic and managed clients and arrange regular meet-ups, to ensure employee well-being and connection to the bigger team and the Aspira family.
Our Sales and Resource Acquisition team are continuing to promote our nearshore resources to our Ireland and Netherlands-based clients. Slowly, more are understanding that the skillset they require for certain projects either don’t exist in their country or if they do, they are in such high demand that costs have increased and they are likely out of budgetary reach, resulting in more openness to fully remote Portugal based resources.
Being on the ground in Portugal and talking to prospective talent, we know Aspira’s international projects are attractive due to their size, technology stack, and the opportunity to work 100% in English. On the flip side, competitors are warning to prepare for high staff turnover due to demand from countries like Finland, Austria, and Switzerland who can offer higher remuneration.
This makes employee engagement key for Aspira as our Portugal Project expands and grows. We want our employees to enjoy their work, be happy, and feel suitably rewarded and recognised.
In summary, this is an exciting expansion for Aspira and paves the way for future opportunities in other European countries. Additionally, it highlights a positive outcome that has resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic and the fundamental shift in the way we work.