Friday 9 December 2022

Improving education and Internet connection is vital to promote development in Guanacaste

The province does not offer the profile of workers that companies are looking for; Despite its potential, the Chorotega region is the second poorest in the country.

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9 December 2022 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – Guanacaste has everything to be a prosperous province; a natural beauty recognized worldwide, an international airport, proximity to the northern border and the Pacific port, rich lands and a lot of space available for the installation of transnational industries, are some of its attractions.

Space development is one of the incipient activities taking place in Guanacaste, by astronaut Franklin Chang and his Ad Astra Rocket company, ddedicated to the development of advanced plasma rocket propulsion technology. Photo from the Ad Astra Rocket website

However, reality shows that it is the second poorest region in the country, with almost 32% of its population in this condition and 9% of them in an extreme state of poverty.

This shows that the investments made in the area and the good global reputation in sectors such as tourism are not channeled to improve the economic situation of its inhabitants.

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The origin of this reality is the deficient training that its inhabitants have received, which is aggravated by the gap evidenced by the pandemic as a result of technological disconnection.

Currently, 52 thousand students in the Chorotega region, made up of the eleven cantons of Guanacaste, do not have access to the Internet, which makes it difficult for them to take lessons in these times when remote education is necessary to avoid the coronavirus outbreak.

To this is added the inadequate educational infrastructure and is exacerbated by the lack of careers oriented towards the areas with the greatest potential in the region.

This leads to the fact that no matter how well the companies have to settle in the province and open development opportunities to the locals, they find themselves limited by not having the ideal profile of personnel they are looking for.

This situation discourages investment or, in the best of cases, leads them to hire outsiders, thus missing the valuable opportunity to positively impact Guanacaste families.

Proof of the deficiency in training is that currently, only 15% of the inhabitants of the province have the language skills that multinational companies need.

As one of the most popular provinces in Costa Rica, Guanacaste has gained a name for itself as a tropical paradise with a pristine shoreline, beautiful mountain ranges and a number of volcanoes.
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With these conditions, a company wishing to invest in Guanacaste finds it difficult to operate, as it has to compete with the tourism industry due to the scarce personnel with adequate knowledge of a second language.

This situation was evidenced at the beginning of this year, with the announcement of the arrival of the SYKES to the province.

Of the 3,060 people who responded to the call for the improvement of English to aspire to one of the 500 positions (jobs) that the company will need, only 800 qualified for the SYKES Academy, a center for updating languages ​​and technical skills that prepares those with a level of Basic and intermediate English.

And of those 800 people with basic skills, 600 started training, 170 graduated and only 110 accepted the job offer.

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“Despite the growth of the province in areas such as services, especially in tourism, many of these jobs are not used by the residents of the communities where these products are developed, for a simple reality and that is that we have not invested in education, formation and qualification of the neighbors who, in general, have been rural, ranchers and fishermen,” highlighted Luis Alonso Alan, mayor of La Cruz.

That causes the widening of inequality, because around the millionaire investments in large complexes that are made in Guanacaste there is a lot of poverty and social problems, lamented the cantonal leader.

Local governments acknowledge part of their responsibility in the problem, but warn that historically they have not had the support of the central government to cover the limitations.

As a way out, the municipalities focus their efforts on a dialogue table where they intend to set the route of reactivation and development of the region.

In it, the educational component is fundamental, highlighted Luis Fernando Mendoza, mayor of Cañas, since it includes, as a central axis, the attraction of companies in a special economic zone that they plan to create in the province.

“It is a novel idea that has to do with an ecosystem to take advantage of the geographical position, close to the second most important port and airport in the country, which would help promote investment to boost exports through the Pacific,” Mendoza explained.

To achieve this, the support of universities, training institutes, the Ministry of Education and the rector in Telecommunications will be necessary to build the job skills that the population requires, as well as the technological tools to close the main limitation that exists in the province: training.

Only in this way will it be possible to create generations prepared for the labor demand that will attract companies, investments and employment, essential for the development of Guanacaste.

Inequality

Despite investments in development projects due to its high potential, Guanacaste is the second poorest region in the country.

  • Central Pacific: Poverty 34.7%;  Extreme poverty 11.3%
  • Chorotega: Poverty 31.7%;  Extreme poverty 9.0
  • Huetar Caribe: Poverty 29.8%;  Extreme poverty 8.2
  • Huetar North: Poverty 28.6%;  Extreme poverty 9.8
  • Brunca: Poverty 26.5%;  Extreme poverty 5.9
  • Central: Poverty 23.7%;  Extreme poverty 6.0
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