Fast growing Chile seeking skilled workers

While one of the fastest-growing economies in South America, Chile is in need of skilled workers – particularly in mining and construction.  However, due to the country’s low unemployment, local employers are recruiting and training workers.

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In an attempt to address the skills gap, the Government has launched the More Opportunities and Better Jobs program, which aims to make Chile’s economy stronger by 2020.  Over 50 initiatives, including lowering taxes and attracting investment, will drive this mission.

The mining sector skills problem

Mining is Chile’s largest industry, yet graduates are in short supply.  By 2020, it’s expected that Chile’s mining industry will reach $91 billion (USD).  However, new projects simply won’t go ahead without workers.

20,000 – 44,000 mining operators, professionals and maintenance staff are needed in the next seven years.  To fill the labour shortage, Chilean companies are recruiting foreign workers – making up 15% of their staff.

In an effort to address the labour shortage, Anglo American, Antofagasta Minerals, BHP Billiton, Codelco and Collahuasi agreed to develop a joint training program with the aim of training 28,000 workers in mining-related trades by the end of 2015.

It’s not just the mining industry that needs skilled workers as construction, health, environmental, and retail industries are also in short supply.

So what’s the answer? Ground-level training.

Recognising the need for vocational training

Most countries can benefit from Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), especially in supporting economic growth.

Chile’s graduates aren’t meeting the needs of industry, which has led to adapting the TVET system.

Working with government, the employer bodies and unions established an industry led competency based system.  Using a combination of change management and enforcement strategies, the Chilean TVET system better meets industry needs for human resource development and work skills.

But it’s an evolving process.

National policy is continuously developing as Chile aims to develop competitiveness through innovation, better relations between the educational sector and the industry, strengthening private-public cooperation.

Chile has taken a step forward in their efforts to help students in vocational programmes prepare for the workforce.

Supporting small businesses, to support growth

SME’s (businesses with less than 50 employees) create approximately 60-80% of jobs in Chile.  It makes sense to support small businesses, to face Chile’s major challenges, such as skills gap and consider where vocational education can support this.

With increasing emphasis being given to skills-based solutions to compete economically, technical and vocational education can enhance opportunities.

TVET interventions, such as Chile’s, can raise employment, identify strategies that are effective and ineffective, and uncover areas in which require additional focus.

Contact Wendy Perry, via wendy@wpaa.com.au, to develop a skills audit and action plan, for your company, industry, institution or region.

February 2016

 

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