The Omar Dengo Foundation of San José, Costa Rica, hosted a Euro-Latin American exchange on the innovation challenges of active employment policies, promoted by the Social Policies area of the EU EUROsociAL+ Programme. The initiative received backing from the Interdisciplinary Centre for Public Policies (CIPP) at the Alberto Hurtado University of Chile and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security of Costa Rica.
The seminar was an opportunity for dialogue regarding the action priorities of employment policies to further the economic recovery in a context of deep global transformation.
They concluded that the economic recovery of Latin America and the Caribbean can be supported by indirect employment programmes operating through temporary wage subsidies and social security payments, assuming that a temporary reduction in the wage cost of new contracted workers will boost the demand for labour.
The Councillor Minister and Senior Policy Officer of the European Union Delegation in Costa Rica, Katja de Sadeleer, opened the event, highlighting efforts made by countries to recover jobs lost through the COVID-19 pandemic, and pointing out that “to protect employment and alleviate the social effects of the pandemic, the region showed a recovery of 6.2% in 2021 and it is estimated that this will only be moderate in 2022. This means that, as in Europe, a robust and resilient recovery needs reforms and investments to attack structural knots”.
In addition, Katja de Sadeleer stated that “the crisis in recent years highlights the importance of public policies that accompany market dynamics not only to address new crises that appear with increasing frequency, but also to respond to great global challenges that, at once, bring threats and opportunities for development”.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Labour and Social Security of Costa Rica, Silvia Lara Povedano, said that it is not feasible to keep investing in a modus operandi where economic growth becomes employment to automatically provide income that reduces poverty in Latin America. “It hasn’t happened in the last 30 years and we shouldn’t assume that it will happen now with the recovery and economic reactivation,” said the minister, underlining the importance of change. “Let’s change the equation, let’s not use employment as a residual or as a closing variable. We propose making employment the starting point, which means rethinking policies. We have to reinvent the public policies we implement starting with employment, and that is why I am insisting on the idea of putting employment at the centre of the recovery process”, she added.
Juan Manuel Santomé, Director of the EUROsociAL+ Programme, said that employment will remain central to European Union policies and cooperation. “EUROsociAL is a cooperation programme for the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean and one of the main pillars of future cooperation”, adding that “the European Union and Latin America need to strengthen their partnership in the coming years. We are at a crossroads and the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean must be allies in moving forward”
Regarding the employment situation in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Deputy Director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for Central America, Haiti, Panama and the Dominican Republic, Leonardo Ferreira Neves, said that “43 million jobs were lost in the first half of 2020 alone. By the third quarter of 2021, around 90% of the jobs lost during the first half of 2020 had been recovered, but 4.5 million jobs have not, of which 4.2 million are women’s jobs”.
Leonardo Ferreira Neves emphasised the need for a global call to action to build a better future after the crisis, based on the employment policies proposed by the ILO inspired by its international labour standards, particularly Convention 122, for which inclusive economic growth and employment, protection of all workers, universal social protection and social dialogue must be considered.
Finally, the Director of the CIPP at the Alberto Hurtado University and expert in Classification Systems of the EU Eurosocial+ Programme, Ximena Concha, addressed the importance of the discussions on employment, saying we are experiencing broad, far-reaching transformations in the working world as a result of global phenomena such as technological advances, the greening of economies, demographic change and migration, among others. “Labour markets are moving towards a new order and, coupled with the opportunities that this creates, existing inequalities are exacerbated and new risks and costs appear in traditional types of permanent employment and for life,” added Ximena Concha, stressing the need to emphasise the role of policies and instruments for training, evaluation and certification of labour skills that allow effective support for the constant updating of workers through training and labour trajectories that make training a lifelong constant and recognise different types of learning.
Written by Valeria Fuenzalida, expert in communication from the Square of innovation and social cohesion