Bridging the gap from school to employment in El Salvador
The workforce situation in El Salvador is typical of many countries around the world – on the one hand young people struggling to find meaningful work and on the other businesses complaining that their growth and competitiveness is constrained by the difficulty and cost of finding people with the right skills and competencies.
In El Salvador this problem contributes to a particularly vicious circle – low skills are considered a major constraint to competitiveness and productivity growth, resulting in low investment and growth rates. This contributes to both migration (2 million people of Salvadoran descent in the US compared to a population of 6.4 million) and among the highest levels of violence in the world. Formal jobs have expanded at a rate of 1.1% per year over the past decade (lower than labour force growth). Most migrants are also in the informal or shadow economy in the US at the lowest skill levels.
The hypothesis underlying this case study is that the gap between the supply and demand for labour and skills is the result of market and systemic failures. Within the complex ecosystem of workforce and skills development education and training services are not effectively matched with labour market demands and do not address the issue of unskilled and untrained job-seekers. The challenge is how to move from the current vicious circle to a more virtuous cycle in which all key actors take a proactive role in bridging this gap. The current status quo actually present market opportunities for entrepreneurial service providers or innovative alliances and organisations.
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