Tuesday 6 December 2022

Lack of English and low schooling hit job quality

50% of the workforce in Costa Rica has no higher education or has incomplete high school. If to this is added the lack of command of English and the lack of basic skills,. the result is low quality of employment or fewer opportunities.

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QCOSTARICA – One of the most acute gaps between the demand for talent from companies in Costa Rica and candidates is the lack of English as a second language and the lack of basic skills for this century such as communication, leadership, and critical thinking.

Unemployment is one of the biggest challenges in Costa Rica. As of May 2021, the unemployment rate in Costa Rica was 17.7%: three times the OECD average (6.6%).

This is stated by Natalia Severiche, country manager of ManpowerGroup Costa Rica.

These deficiencies are also related to the low level of education: half of the workforce in Costa Rica does not reach higher education or have incomplete secondary education, according to Alberto Mora, coordinator of the Investigation of the State of the Region report.

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To overcome these gaps, Mora urges to articulate actions between technical education and the private and public sectors where tools are provided for the construction of a multidisciplinary professional profile adapted to the needs of companies.

The most recent report from the Ibero-American Institute for Education and Productivity (2021) affirms the importance of the education sector talking more with the private business sector and promoting more entrepreneurship and the training of soft skills from an early age.

To date, the most difficult profiles for companies to find are those related to digital technologies, such as systems engineers, data analysts, programmers, specialists in cybersecurity and digital transformation.

For non-technical profiles, basic digital skills are considered important (54%) or very important (31%).

Disconnected from reality

Another urgent challenge is to bring younger people to reality and market demands. As the world changes and demands new skills and niches to find work, 50% of 15-year-olds continue to bet on studying traditional careers where opportunities are more limited.

This is revealed in the most recent report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on employment expectations of young people, based on a study that included 600,000 schoolchildren from 79 countries around the world and who participated in the Program to the International Student Assessment (PISA).

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That is why the role that education plays, during Primary and Secondary, to guide young people in this process of building their expectations and self-knowledge is fundamental: what are my technical and soft skills, based on reality?

It is crucial that classroom learning connects with social and economic reality, that they offer reliable, varied information and that classrooms create spaces to question, compare and build based on the evidence provided by data, through a culture of learning, of unlearning and re-learning.

The Director of Education of the OECD, Andreas Schleicher has said that “it is a concern that more young people (compared to the year 2000) ignore or are unaware of the new types of jobs that are emerging, particularly as a result of digitization (…) They choose their dream job from a small list of the most popular and traditional occupations,” he stated.

That same report criticizes that although new forms of work emerge, the school and the college continue to do the same thing: ask students to memorize the contents of a curriculum to pass exams. This traditional and obsolete model neglects the development of basic skills for the 21st century, such as curiosity, critical thinking, empathy, resilience, the desire to undertake and the capacity for good reading comprehension and the resolution of mathematical and scientific problems.

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The results of this recent OECD report coincide with a study published by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which states that by 2030 more than half of young people will not have the necessary skills to prosper in a job due to leaving the secondary education system with poor aptitudes and with the idea that an academic degree will guarantee them future employment, without this necessarily being the case.

Unemployment is one of the biggest challenges in Costa Rica.

As of May 2021, the unemployment rate in Costa Rica was 17.7%: three times the OECD average (6.6%).

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