At the invitation of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the EU-Latin American foundation (EU-LAC), Cedefop has presented its work on investing in skills in Europe for more growth and better jobs at conferences in Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Peru between April and June.

Experts Konstantinos Pouliakas and Jasper van Loo explored the issue of the need for methods and tools for skills anticipation as a key pillar of any nation’s skills system. They also talked about the importance of investing in a comprehensive skills ecosystem, which includes the development of apprenticeships, policy monitoring, national qualification frameworks and validation. The results of the pan-European forecasting model were presented along with a discussion of the merits and deficiencies of different approaches to skills anticipation.

The conferences on skills and productivity are organised by the IDB and sponsored by a global consortium of partners, including the Australian government, the British Council, the government of South Korea, the Council on Australian-Latin American Relations (Coalar) and the EU-LAC foundation.

So far, they have covered five Latin American countries (Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Peru). They aim to encourage governments in these countries to recognise the significant benefits that investment in skills can have for labour productivity and growth, consider that this investment requires the adoption of a comprehensive skills strategy and concerted policy efforts by multiple actors to achieve maximum benefits, and take into account that a comprehensive skills system requires policy attention on multiple fronts.

The format of the conferences is based on an initial exchange of international experiences followed by a one-day policy learning platform in which representatives from government ministries, education and training bodies and employers interact with the aim of committing to future policy actions regarding key pillars of the nations’ skills systems. Proceedings are presented at the end of the conference to the relevant ministers.

Challenges faced by Latin American countries are significantly different from those of the European Union. For instance, Brazil is faced with a situation of full employment, which has not resulted in marked productivity gains for the country. As a result, Brazil has to expand its capacity for investment in skills and increase its demand for higher skilled workers. Furthermore, Brazil is expecting a tremendous demographic dividend (about 60 million young workers will enter its labour force in the next decade), which makes it even more important to exploit this rich pool of available human resources.

According to the IDB, Latin American and Caribbean countries rank very low in the international PISA test scores, with three out of five young people lacking basic skills in maths, and have 22 million NEETs (people not in employment, education or training). One in three companies are finding it very difficult to remain competitive because of the inability to find and attract skilled personnel.

The EU-LAC foundation and the IDB expressed an interest to collaborate further with Cedefop on skills anticipation and on the analysis of appropriate institutional settings/policies to foster the development of skills systems that are conducive to productivity.

In Chile, Mr Pouliakas gave an in-depth interview to the organisers. You can watch the video here: