ILO issues call for ideas and solutions to support e-formality through skills development in Latin America and the Caribbean

Skills development and innovation for reducing informality in the region is a key objective of this ILO call, which will provide financial and technical support to IT projects that boost formalization through the improvement of skills.

News | 04 May 2021
Lima - The ILO announced today a call on innovators from all over the world to propose innovative ideas, solutions and practices that, based on the use of new technologies, support efforts to reduce labour informality by promoting skills development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This "2nd ILO Skills Challenge Innovation Call" is addressed to entities or organizations that, through the use of new technologies, facilitate the formalization of labour and economic units through skills development.

The call, launched on 4 May, aims to promote innovation in the areas of e-formality and skills development to contribute to the recovery of formal employment in the region after the massive job losses caused by COVID-19.

The ILO is looking for solutions that will strengthen skills development and improve apprenticeship systems to reach those in the informal economy. More specifically, it is seeking innovative solutions to facilitating access to social protection, simplifying registration, improving access to finance, increasing productivity, supporting labour inspection, supporting law enforcement and giving a voice to those working in the informal economy.

"The ILO's long history of supporting governments and workers' and employers' organizations in the search for efficient solutions, has shown us the importance of adopting a comprehensive approach that takes into account the multiple dimensions of informality ," said Vinícius Pinheiro, Director of the ILO Office for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The ILO Regional Director added that "the crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the high cost of labour informality in Latin America and the Caribbean”.

It is estimated that before the pandemic, just over half of those employed in the region, i.e. around 158 million people, worked informally and were severely impacted by the crisis, which caused job losses, massive departures from the labour force and a sharp reduction in labour income. This impact mainly affected women, due to their over-representation in the informal economy.

According to available data, workers in the informal economy are more than three times likely to have no education or only primary education compared to workers in the formal economy. Similarly, informal enterprise owners are about twice as likely not to be educated or have only a primary level of education compared to those operating formally.

Against this backdrop, there is an urgent need to enhance skills development and ensure lifelong learning opportunities in the informal economy to foster productivity and labour formalization. Technology can be a key tool to identify and develop innovative solutions that simplify and accelerate the transition to decent jobs.

“Promoting employability and income opportunities of people working in the informal economy is highly critical for inclusive societies, and more so in times of crisis,” explained Srinivas Reddy, Chief of the ILO Skills and Employability Branch.

“Innovations to facilitate outreach, the recognition of prior learning or digital solutions are highly needed, requiring new financing models and partnerships with employers’ and workers’ organizations," he added.

Proposals must include innovations to be implemented in one or more countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and have the potential to be scaled up and replicated on a larger scale.

However, participating entities or organizations can be located in any country, inside or outside the LAC region.

The top two proposals will receive grants of USD 30,000 and USD 20,000 respectively, to implement the proposed solutions.

In addition, they will receive access to an Innovation Lab to develop their solutions into ready-to-implement prototypes, as well as an invitation to join the ILO Skills Innovation Network.

For more information, visit:

Deadline for participation: 15 June 2021, midnight Geneva time.