education in Brazil Brazil Photos/Getty Images

El reto de la educación y el mercado laboral en América Latina

WASHINGTON, DC – América Latina podría estar en el umbral de una transformación fundamental. En los próximos años, casi la totalidad del crecimiento del empleo en la región se concentrará en puestos de trabajo de ingresos medios, en particular en el sector de servicios. Los  expertos señalan que los países de la región podrían crear entre 14 millones y 23 millones de puestos de trabajo bien remunerados de aquí a 2018, si los empleadores pueden encontrar personal con las aptitudes que requieren.

Y es aquí donde está el problema. Los sistemas educativos de América Latina tienen dificultades para generar suficientes trabajadores calificados que contribuyan a aumentar la productividad. Más de un tercio de las empresas de la región citan el escaso nivel de capacitación de los empleados como una limitación importante. Para reforzar el crecimiento económico, América Latina debe invertir en una fuerza laboral competente. Al ampliar el acceso a una educación de alta calidad, tanto de instituciones públicas como privadas, los países de la región aumentarían la productividad, elevarían los niveles de vida y reducirían la desigualdad.

Este desajuste del mercado laboral debería haberse abordado hace mucho tiempo. El primer paso para asegurar que los estudiantes de América Latina adquieran las competencias que necesitan para aprovechar las oportunidades que brinda la región es reconocer que, si bien es importante, no basta con aumentar los presupuestos para la educación o el tiempo que los alumnos pasan en la escuela. Algunos países latinoamericanos han incrementado el gasto en educación. México y Brasil gastan entre el 5 % y el 6 % de su producto interno bruto (PIB) en educación, una proporción mayor que la de muchos países desarrollados y aproximadamente el triple de la de China. Pero la calidad de sus programas no refleja este volumen de recursos y se necesita mayor énfasis en la educación terciaria.

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