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Uruguay: The Best Hub for Software QA Engineers in Latin America?

Montevideo ranks the #1 city for the best quality of life in Latin America, posing unlimited potential for software QA engineers and their US clients

Picture of the Montevideo sign at the Punta Carretas pier

Tucked in a crook between its much larger neighbors, Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay is a small and unassuming country that has surged as one of the best places to live in Latin America and is quickly gaining international recognition.

Globally known as “The Switzerland of America”, it entered the ranking of the top 40 citizens in the world, according to the Global Citizenship Report 2022 made by CS Global Partners. Moreover, Uruguay has been ranked as the country with the best government in Latin America and the most advanced democratic system in the region.

Uruguay is not only one of the best places to live in Latin America, but it’s also one of the best places for software QA engineers in the IT Industry to grow and for companies in the US to outsource their QA. Furthermore, it became one of the most trusted places for tech companies worldwide to do business with.

The combination of high-tech, education, and government policies that promote growth and high quality of life is making Uruguay a true Digital Hub in the region for quality companies.

 In this post, we’ll take a look at the factors that contribute to the growth of Uruguay’s testing community and the business advantages of outsourcing there.

High Quality of Life in Uruguay

Uruguay is known for its natural beauty with its Atlantic coastline and verdant countryside, as well as its relaxed way of life.

The Uruguayan population, mostly comprised of European descendants, is known for being one of the populations and countries with the highest consumption of mate (an herbal tea with incredible health benefits) and meat in the world (there are four cows per person there).

Uruguay is well known for its soccer team and being the birthplace of one of the most famous tango composers, Carlos Gardel.

The country is home to just 3.4 million people, with half of them living in its capital, Montevideo. Conveniently situated along the Rio de la Plata, Montevideo is a midpoint of trade with a bustling port, lying just two hours by boat from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

A Tourist Destination

In relation to its population, Uruguay receives the most tourists out of any country in South America. One reason for this is that it is home to the popular summertime destination, Punta Del Este, a region that is often referred to as the “Hamptons of South America.”

Punta del Este, Maldonado, Uruguay

Other popular tourist attractions are the monthlong celebration of Carnival in February (the world’s longest) and the charming Colonia Del Sacramento. A Unesco World Heritage site, Colonia Del Sacramento is one of the oldest towns in the region, famous for its cobblestone streets and colorful buildings. It is the perfect day trip for tourists in Buenos Aires, as it is just a one-hour boat ride away.

A Beacon of Progress and Peace

A classical music Duo, Aleksey Igudesman and Richard Hyung-ki Joo, produced a song purely dedicated to the greatness that is Uruguay, which became a viral sensation and was featured in a campaign by the Uruguayan Ministry of Tourism. In Spanish, they sing, “¡Uruguay es el mejor país!,” which translates to “Uruguay is the best country!” You can watch the music video with English subtitles here.

You don’t have to take the duo’s word for why Uruguay is great though, as it consistently ranks #1 in the following indexes for Latin America:

  • Democracy
  • Transparency
  • Low corruption
  • Rule of law
  • Prosperity
  • Income distribution
  • Quality of life

Lastly, Uruguay is very peaceful and progressive. In 2016, it was found as one of the only ten countries in the world that remains free of conflict

It was also the pioneer in Latin America to ban smoking indoors, legalize divorce, marriage equality, and abortion, and the first to completely legalize marijuana consumption (in order to mitigate the effects of the illegal drug trade).

It is evident why Uruguay is one of the most desirable places to live for Latin Americans and even US and European expatriates.

A Favorable Place in LATAM for Test Engineers

Not only is this country a desirable place to live, for professionals in the area of IT, but it is also rife with opportunity and talent. There are several factors that make this true.

Government Support for IT

The Uruguayan government has declared IT an official area of interest, and it has been working to promote innovation and grow its IT and software industry with programs and tax incentives. Uruguay has designated 12 free-trade zones, where there are no transit, property, VAT, or net income taxes. 

These strategic measures not only reflect Uruguay’s commitment to technological advancement but also serve as a testament to its dedication to creating a conducive environment for businesses to flourish within the realm of IT and software development.

The government embraces technology so much that in 2009 it became the first country to provide every child in school with a laptop and today 99% of the population has access to broadband, ranking #1 in internet penetration in Latin America. It also boasts the fastest download speeds in the region.

International software companies that have invested in offices, operations, and employees in the IT Industry in Uruguay include Microsoft, IBM, Globant, Verifone, Netsuite, Sabre Holdings, Tata Consultancy Services, and more.

Alejandro Ferrari, coordinator of global services at trade promotion agency Uruguay XXI, effectively sums it all up in this statement about the future of Uruguay, “A serious and reliable country, with important incentives, in particular for the development of software aimed at service exports, and where the standard and quality of life are also attractive for foreign talent.”

Referring to Uruguay as the “Silicon Valley of South America” is starting to ring a bell. According to the Digital Rise Report 2021, Uruguay was the top Digital Riser over the last three years in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This report is prepared by the European Center for Digital Competitiveness every three years. It ranks the digital competitiveness of 140 countries with information from The World Economic Forum, the World Bank, and the International Communications Union.

Moreover, the Financial Times informed that “more than 1,000 software development companies operate in the small nation, generating almost $1bn in exports, mostly to the US. That makes it one of the world’s leading software exporters per capita”.

A good example of this is dLocal, Uruguay´s first unicorn company backed up by US-based private equity firm, General Atlantic, with a valuation at IPO of 6.1 Bns.

The Uruguayan government has declared IT an official area of interest working to promote its IT industry with programs and tax incentives. They have designated 12 free-trade zones, where there are no transit, property, VAT, or net income taxes. And in 2021 the industry has generated 1 in 5 of the new job opportunities in the market.

Here are some of Uruguay’s latest regulations and investments highlighted by the European Center for Digital Competitiveness in their Digital Riser Report 2021:

✔️ In line with Uruguay’s 2020 Digital Agenda (AUD 2020), the Digital Government Artificial Intelligence Strategy was launched to promote the responsible use of AI in the public sector.

✔️ In 2019, the national telecommunication company, Antel, deployed Latin America’s first commercial 5G network, improving the environment for businesses.

✔️ In 2018, the government regulated the taxation of digital economic actions and services, as well as multinational enterprises, to strengthen the digital legal framework.

✔️ As part of the AUD 2020, a program dedicated to the development of digital competencies reached over 70,000 Uruguayans in 2019.

✔️ Antel plans to reach national FttP (Fiber to the Premises) coverage by early 2022, with an estimated investment of $800 million.

✔️ In 2019, Uruguay’s National Research and Innovation Agency (ANII) launched Proyecta Uruguay. A program set up to make the country more attractive to innovative start-ups and entrepreneurs.

Access to Education

Studying

In Uruguay, all students have access to free academic education from the public universities, UTEC and Universidad de La República (UDELAR). There are several high-quality computer engineering programs. Both public and private universities produce highly skilled software engineers and test engineers annually. 

Uruguay, in particular, has a QA education technology program that knows no equivalent in other developing countries. Centro de Ensayos de Software (CES) is a non-profit software testing laboratory that offers a program with different testing training options. These are endorsed by the Universidad de La República (Uruguay) and the Uruguayan IT Chamber (CUTI). 

In 2021, CES hit the record in the number of Software tester graduations, and it did it again in 2022

There are also other paths available, with committed professionals. One of them is a non-profit organization, “Projecto Nahual”. It’s dedicated to helping people in need through mentorship programs and courses run by volunteers. Its mission is to improve lives through employment.
Also, as part of Uruguay’s “One Laptop Per Child” national program, Plan Ceibal offers free programming and testing courses: Jóvenes a Programar. This program was launched in 2016 to train people from 18 to 30 years old and help them enter the tech market.

Here is an excerpt from a review of CES by TestingReflections.com:

“The Centro de Ensayos de Software (CES), a non-profit software QA testing laboratory in Uruguay, has recently launched a program that is certain to become the new ‘gold standard’ in professional development for software testers. The program, endorsed by the Universidad de la República (Uruguay), the Universidad Castilla La Mancha (Spain), and sanctioned by the Uruguayan IT Chamber (CUTI), is the most comprehensive, affordable, and publicly available training program for software testers on the market. Based on my market research and comprehensive review of the program, I have no reservations in rating it as market leading.”

There is also a non-profit organization, Projecto Nahual, with a presence in Uruguay that is dedicated to helping the underprivileged learn technical skills in QA. The organization provides mentorship programs and courses run by volunteers for students, with the mission of ultimately helping them to improve their lives with gainful employment.

Testing Events & Community

Uruguay is home to the largest testing conference in South America, TestingUY, and Abstracta is an organizer of the event.

Quality Sense Conference

Abstracta also organizes the Quality Sense Conference. This impactful event marked its debut in Uruguay in 2022, and now it’s gearing up for its second edition in Santiago de Chile this coming November.

With speakers from all around the globe, the conference aims to make knowledge and expertise available to all in a diverse and inclusive environment.

Don’t miss this article! Quality Sense Conference Returns in a New Edition.

All throughout the year, there are several tech conferences and meetups in Uruguay.

Despite being a small country, software quality and tech engineers in Uruguay have plenty of support and opportunities to learn from and network with others.

The Ideal Nearshore QE Center for the US

What does Uruguay’s QA hub mean for US businesses?

Uruguay is the ideal nearshoring location, primarily due to its remarkable cultural alignment with the United States. With both nations sharing a Western cultural framework, companies find it easier to bridge communication gaps and align objectives, fostering a smoother collaborative environment. This cultural affinity not only enhances communication but also facilitates a shared understanding of business practices and values, promoting efficiency and reducing potential misunderstandings.

Another compelling factor that sets Uruguay apart is its advantageous time zone. Positioned merely one hour ahead of New York, Uruguay’s time zone compatibility allows for seamless real-time communication and coordination between teams. The minimal time difference minimizes delays and enhances the overall efficiency of the process, leading to faster development cycles and improved product quality.

Software QA Engineers Latin America: A Catalyst for Successful Software Nearshoring

Uruguay boasts a rich pool of highly skilled and multilingual talent people, which is a critical asset for successful software nearshoring. English is widely taught and often compulsory for students, ensuring that a large portion of the workforce possesses strong English language proficiency.

This linguistic competence facilitates effective remote communication, growth, and the best position possible in the region, making it easier to convey intricate technical details, understand client requirements, and provide comprehensive reports.

Uruguay’s commitment to education and professional development nurtures a culture of expertise, resulting in a workforce of professionals who can deliver high-quality services while embracing various technologies and a proactive approach to problem-solving.

If you are looking for the ideal partner for you, Abstracta is the most trusted name in software quality engineering in Uruguay. By helping organizations like Shutterfly, BBVA, and Verifone with Test Automation, Performance, and Continuous Testing, we have created an agile partnership model for seamlessly insourcing, outsourcing, and/or augmenting pre-existing teams. 

Contact us to discuss how we can help you grow your business.

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