43rd meeting of the ILO/CINTERFOR Technical Committee - Reinventing vocational training to face the future of work

Institutions and specialists from Latin America and the Caribbean are meeting in Costa Rica to analyse the challenges posed in the areas of education and training by the transformations taking place in the world of work. The ILO has proposed a series of general guidelines to bridge major gaps in matters of productivity, productive development and human resources.

News | 08 August 2017
SAN JOSE – The fast paced transformations in the world of work give prompts reinventing of professional training in Latin America and the Caribbean. The aim is to bridge gaps and anticipate changes that affect those seeking employment, as much as the businesses interested in filling vacancies, and are fundamental for continued, inclusive and sustainable growth, according to the ILO in a meeting which began today in the Costa Rican capital.
“In order to face the great challenges presented by the future of work, it is fundamental to promote debate and convince decision-makers to reinvent this formidable tool which is professional training and link it to productive development policies”, said the ILO Regional Director, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, who participated in the inauguration of the meeting which brought together delegates from 23 countries.

The discussion on the future of professional training is taking place in the context of the 43rd meeting of the ILO/Cinterfor (Interamerican Centre for the Knowledge Development in Professional Training) which brings together specialized organizations involved in training and human resource development in Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain and Cape Verde.

Salazar pointed out that “the accelerated process of current transformation finds the region exposed to new factors of change and an uncertain demand for unprecedented occupations.” He added that “in the space of one generation, we will be witnessing a massive obsolescence of many traditional skills due to digitization, robotization and artificial intelligence, among other phenomena, as well as the emergence of new requirements of skills and competencies”.

“This underscores the necessity of managing training with new strategies and public-private partnerships, with flexible roles and responsibilities in order to have the speed and pertinence that development requires”, said the ILO Regional Director.

“Professional training is facing one of the most profound changes in its history.  Twenty-first century jobs require skills and competencies of  more complex nature (technical, digital, and soft skills) and challenge the systems of education and vocational training not only to be up-to-date but to anticipate new requirements, and offer life-long learning”, he added.

The ILO Regional Office and ILO/Cinterfor is presenting a document titled “The future of professional training in Latin America and the Caribbean: diagnostic and general guidelines for its strengthening”.  The document posits that professional training as an activity has a history of over 70 years in the region, and as such is well institutionalized. 

What is required, he explains, is “a long-term and futuristic view, based on the present realities, of the world of vocational training and its relation with the challenges of productive development and employment in the region, in times when the evolution of education systems promises to change the way in which we learn and new technologies change the way in which we work”.

“Human resources are an indispensable and central ingredient for achieving continued, inclusive and sustainable growth with full and productive employment and decent work for everyone”, the document relates.

“One fundamental question going forward, therefore, is whether the formal and informal structures of education and learning will evolve to satisfy the needs of the persons who wish to fill the expectations of the workplace in the future,” according to the ILO. 

The document indicates that in Latin America and the Caribbean, in spite of the increase in school attendance, international data reveal important lags in the development of basic skills in mathematics, reading and sciences. Also, there are large gaps in the area of vocational training. According to the document, for example, “in the region, only one out of every nine workers receives some type of training (education or capacity-building) during the course of a year, while in the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) these figures average over 50%”.

The existence of large gaps in skills, both quantitative and qualitative, is evident. Many companies in the region are experiencing difficulties in filling vacancies and finding personnel with adequate technical and soft skills, which is proof of serious mismatches between supply and demand, given the high levels of unemployment and underemployment of youth in particular.  

In Latin America and the Caribbean, there is a clear correlation between the size of a company, the level of education and the quality of employment. The proportion of workers with tertiary education increases with the size of a company. In microenterprises it is 15%, in small enterprises it is 28% and in large companies it is 50%.

Furthermore, the level of education is highly correlated with informality, which affects almost 50% of workers, since the higher the level of education the lower the incidence of informal employment, according to the document prepared by ILO/Cinterfor. “This is to say that education and capacity-building contribute very significantly to reducing informality”.

The document presents ten recommendations to guide strategies aimed at modernizing and strengthening vocational training that covers topics like: the need to better align with policies of productive development and technological changes;  the provision of stronger support for social dialogue; adequate regulatory frameworks and sufficient resources; improving the quality and efficiency of systems; boosting apprenticeships or “quality learning” that uses companies as a learning space; improving the articulation with employment services; as well as promoting equal opportunity. 

“This also implies considering the human talent as an end in itself and as a means of promoting development in Latin America and the Caribbean”, added the ILO/Cinterfor Director, Enrique Deibe. The 43rd meeting of the ILO/CINTERFOR Technical Committee concludes this Friday.

For more information please visit:

Report: The future of vocational training in Latin America and the Caribbean: overview and strengthening guidelines: https://www.oitcinterfor.org/en/node/7056

43rd meeting of the ILO/Cinterfor Technical Committee: http://www.oitcinterfor.org/en/node/7016

For further information and requests for interviews please contact:

Gennike Mayers | mayersg@ilo.org | +1(868) 623 7178/7704 ext 412

Averlon Toussaint | toussaint@ilo.org | +1(868) 623 7178/7704 ext 411