Reimagining job-oriented education to give youth the chance of a better future

 By Mariana Costa, Co-founder and CEO of Laboratoria


 To find out more on youth and inclusive development, go to the 2017 International Economic Forum on Latin America and the Caribbean website


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Laboratoria graduates. Photo credit: the Laboratoria website

Receiving quality higher education in Latin America is still a privilege, with two-thirds of youth in the region lacking advanced technical, professional and management skills. Despite their limited access, acquiring these valuable skills is still the main vehicle to a career. The consequences are not minor. According to OECD data, 21% of youth are not working or studying, and another 19% are working in the informal economy. All of them face limited opportunities to fulfil or even discover their potential. A better way must be found to give the region’s young talent a path to professional growth.

A few years ago, I started a web development company in Lima, Peru. In the process of building our team of software developers, my partners and I discovered what appeared to be a loophole in the system. Most of these coding professionals, making competitive salaries and facing endless opportunities for career growth, did not have a fancy degree from a renowned university. They were self-taught developers, university dropouts or computer engineering graduates from obscure technical institutes. Despite the lack of a degree, they were doing great. And they were not the only ones. According to Stack Overflow’s 2016 survey, 56% of developers do not have a college degree in computer science or related fields. In tech, the key to a high paying job often has more to do with what you can build than where you studied.

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Informal is normal in Latin America: taxes matter

By Juan Carlos Benítez, Economist at the Latin American and Caribbean Unit, and Angel Melguizo, Head of the Latin American and Caribbean Unit, at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

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Informality equals vulnerability. In emerging economies and particularly in Latin America, informal is normal. On average, 55% of workers in the region did not contribute to pension or healthcare programmes in 2013. Although informality rates vary significantly across countries (Figure 1), a common feature of informality is its large prevalence amongst the poor and low-middle income workers (e.g. Jutting and De Laiglesia, 2009). On average, 85% and 73% of households in the lowest earning quintiles do not have any member contributing to social security schemes. Furthermore, informality is “one of the most striking differences, within the middle sectors, between the vulnerable population and the consolidated middle class” (Lustig and Melguizo, 2015).

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Instituciones, Gobernabilidad y Desarrollo

Por Danilo Astori, Ministro de Economía y Finanzas de  Uruguay

En la reflexión y la acción acerca de los caminos que conducen a niveles cada vez más altos de desarrollo económico y social, la cadena que nace en las fortalezas institucionales de la sociedad, e incluye como eslabones a la transparencia, la rendición de cuentas y la gobernabilidad, asume una importancia crucial. En tiempos como los actuales, en los que la volatilidad y la incertidumbre, así como los problemas de gobernanza afectan al mundo en su conjunto, es relevante detenerse a examinar el papel a jugar por los conceptos antes señalados.
Es claro que el que refiere al desarrollo económico y social de una sociedad se encuentra íntimamente asociado al de proyecto nacional, entendiendo por tal el que se define como una verdadera cuestión de Estado, definida y ubicada por encima de los partidos políticos y otras organizaciones sociales, así como la de la alternancia de unos y otras en el poder. Continue reading

Partnering with philanthropy to optimise a country’s resources: Mexico’s case

By Emilie Romon of the OECD Development Centre’s Global Network of Foundations Working for Development (netFWD)

The Government of Mexico is stepping up its engagement with its philanthropic sector. Three factors fuel this decision. First, the share of official development assistance to middle-income countries, such as Mexico, is expected to significantly decrease in coming years. In 2014, the donor community decided to increase support for least-developed and fragile states rather than middle-income countries.

This means Mexico is exploring new ways to optimise all available public and private resources for development. Second, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) endorsed in 2015 call for public and private actors to better pool and co-ordinate their resources if they are to achieve the goals. And third, as the co-chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, which promotes multi-stakeholder partnerships with foundations and other non-state actors, Mexico wants to lead by example. Indeed, Mexico’s move towards its domestic philanthropic sector could not be more timely. Continue reading

EU-Latin America: Post-Occidental relationship?

By Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Former EU Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy, Former Foreign Minister of Austria and former President of the EU-LAC Foundation

Today more than ever, the European Union and Latin America face the opportunity to advance a post-Occidental partnership. Already, the two regions share the same culture, speak the same language in part and promote the same values and principles enshrined in democracy, the rule of law, human dignity and peace. Such mutual bi-regional respect and tolerance serve as a clear counter-ideology to the surge of extremism and religious fanaticism that we see.

Alain Rouquié, academic, Latin America expert and former French ambassador to Brazil, referred to Latin America as Europe’s “Far West.” Yet, the many changes in the relationship between the European Union and Latin America no longer reflect this definition of the “West.” Thus, building a new enhanced post-Occidental strategic partnership is timely. Indeed, Europe and Latin America could be much stronger allies, politically, socially and economically. What does this mean in concrete terms? Continue reading

How middle class are middle-income households in Latin America?

By Ángel Melguizo (OECD Development Centre) and Nora Lustig (Tulane University)

On labour informality and its causes

 One of the most important achievements of the recent period of economic expansion in Latin America has been the substantial reduction of poverty and the surge of an emerging middle class. According to World Bank estimates (Ferreira et al, 2013), in 2009 the Latin American population with a daily income of between 4 and 50 dollars a day (in parity of purchasing power) represents 68% in the region today, compared with 29% who still are moderate poverty. These ‘middle sectors’ are composed of 38% belonging to a vulnerable population, which has between 4 and 10 dollars a day, and 30% middle class, between 10 and 50 dollars. Continue reading

Hacia una nueva asociación América Latina y China

Por Mario Pezzini, Director del Centro de Desarrollo de la OCDE y Angel Melguizo, jefe de la Unidad de América Latina y el Caribe del Centro de Desarrollo de la OCDE

América Latina y China han protagonizado un auge comercial impresionante en los últimos 15 años. Los flujos comerciales entre ellos se han multiplicado 22 veces, mucho más que con la Organización para la Cooperación y Desarrollo Económicos (OCDE) – dos veces – la Unión Europea -tres veces- ó Estados Unidos -dos veces. China es hoy el principal socio comercial de Brasil, Chile y Perú. China ha aumentado su participación en cadenas globales de valor de América Latina. Está más integrada en las cadenas de valor con China que a nivel regional. Sin embargo, hoy los vínculos entre América Latina y China están tomando un nuevo rumbo, planteando nuevos desafíos y abriendo oportunidades. Continue reading