Newspapers, Internet new reports…each indicate a dire need for employers to hire residents of Costa Rica. From English classes to Amazon, the news seems exceptional. Almost every weekend there are job fairs soliciting unemployed and underemployed people to fill vacant jobs.
But what jobs?
Underemployment is in epidemic proportions in the land of Pura Vida. Most of these job offerings are little more than flipping burgers or, at best, being a receptionist.
The Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje (INA) records that only 25% of the graduates work in their desired profession. This indicates that the INA is outdated and of little help to people wanting employment. It is a return to underemployment and frequently, poverty.
These are “go no place jobs” as servers, gardeners, or back on the streets of informal workers selling avocados. A black eye for any group or person trying to improve living conditions in Costa Rica.
With costs of living surging up, poverty is a given and with it so is the crime. Who can support a family flipping burgers? The family needs a thief, perhaps a drug dealer, to make ends meet.
The counter-argument is these are youngsters who are given a chance to learn a trade and the Big Mac is a road to management. But the trade is old, there is no internship and few companies hire people without experience, and the graduate salaries lucky enough to get a job, are very, but very low.
Even police officers who attend months of classes and training come out not knowing where in the country they will be assigned and if they can earn more than US$600 a month including perks.
The concept of employment and education go together with the need of industry. Costa Rica, once again, has turned that concept into a macro-bureaucracy that is limited in its human value.