In 2021, EUROsociAL+ provided technical assistance to the Ministries of Labour of Uruguay, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala through the development of specialised consultancies to plan strategies and actions aimed at encouraging formal employment during the pandemic and post-pandemic.
In March 2020, when the COVID-19 health emergency was decreed, an unprecedented crisis in the world’s economies and labour markets began. Millions of jobs were endangered and others disappeared abruptly when a host of economic activities were halted. Each country in the region took measures to preserve the remaining jobs and to recover those lost.
Since the beginning of 2021, EUROsociAL+ has been assisting the labour ministries of Uruguay, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala through specialised consultancies to analyse the impact on employment of the closure of economic activities and working with their technical teams to draw up employment plans for implementation from 2021.
Since 2018, the three countries’ economic growth and the performance of formal employment indicators were not good. Young people and women were in the worst position, joined by a significant number of people over 40 who were excluded from millions of jobs in the region as a result of the health crisis.
Given the circumstances, EUROsociAL+ supported the Ministry of Labour and Social Security of Uruguay to prepare the Integral Plan for the Promotion of Employment (PIPE), to the Ministry of Labour of the Dominican Republic in updating the National Employment Plan (PLANE) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security of Guatemala to strengthen the governance of its National Policy for Decent Employment.
Comprehensive Plan for the Promotion of Employment in Uruguay 2021-2024
In 2020, the National Employment Directorate (DINAE) of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security received support from EUROsociAL+ to formulate its 2020-2025 strategic planning and 2020-2021 operational plan. In this period, it was decided to design the PIPE and its monitoring and evaluation system, plus the design of a Labour market prospecting system to identify job opportunities and professional training.
To design the PIPE, the EUROsociAL+ specialised consultancy worked with the DINAE management and the management teams of vocational training and territorial development divisions, employment policies and planning. With their input, the strategic and programmatic approaches of the PIPE for the 2021-2024 period and the monitoring and evaluation system were formulated. This work was enriched with an exchange of international experiences on the current and future role of the public employment services of Costa Rica, Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina, Italy and Germany.
The starting point of the specialised advice is based on the analysis of existing employment programmes and services in Uruguay and studies prepared by DINAE on the Impact of COVID-19 on employment.
The objective of the PIPE was defined as “To prioritise young people, women and people over 45 years of age who aspire to a first job, or in a situation of short and long-term unemployment and independent workers, so that they have access to work opportunities through the provision of innovative employment services in the framework of the COVID-19 crisis and post-crisis” and its strategic areas focused on the following points:
- Design of a system for sounding out employment opportunities and professional training needs.
- Promotion of new incentives for hiring and promoting employment based on Labour intermediation and Law 19973 of 2021 that promotes the hiring of vulnerable populations.
- Establishment of strategic agendas to trace the vocational training route of the future.
- Strengthening of information and guidance services for employability and decent work based on the implementation of new technologies.
- Promotion of entrepreneurship, independent work and new sources of employment in the circular economy, the green economy, information and communication technologies.
The result of the PIPE was taken to discussion scenarios to gather the opinions of several public institutions, private organisations and workers within the framework of tripartite dialogue. Undertakings arose from these dialogues to establish institutional agreements aimed at strengthening public value chains in the implementation of the PIPE.
The National Employment Plan of the Dominican Republic 2021-2024
The National Employment Plan (PLANE) of the Dominican Republic emerged from the current government’s programme to promote the generation of 600,000 jobs by 2024. The plan is designed to develop public policy instruments articulated with sectoral and territorial plans to achieve the proposed goal.
One outstanding aspect of the governance of PLANE is the reactivation of the National Employment Commission in 2021, as a tripartite advisory body to promote consensus around the promotion of decent and productive jobs. The commission is made up of the ministries involved in employment policies, business organisations and union confederations.
EUROsociAL+ is currently advising the General Employment Directorate (DGE) of the Ministry of Labour to prepare the PLANE, considering the complex employment situation in the country since 2020. It is estimated that more than 850,000 jobs were affected by the economic shut-downs during the health crisis. In the second quarter of 2021, informality reached 57.8%, mainly being borne among the self-employed and domestic service jobs which also account for most informal sector jobs.
The specialised advice provided by EUROsociAL+ has also supported the DGE to develop virtual forums in collaboration with the business sector, trade unions, civil society and centralised organisations, academia, experts and government entities to learn about proposals to generate 600,000 jobs and strategies for formalising labour.
The PLANE will focus on five areas related to the promotion of incentives for creating formal jobs, strengthening vocational training in light of new challenges in the country, improving access to decent work for vulnerable people through enhanced employment services, expansion of the productive fabric by promoting an entrepreneurial culture, the development of MIPYMES, and the establishment of a Labour prospective system.
Strengthening the governance of Guatemala’s national employment policy
Guatemala enacted the National Policy for Decent Employment (PNED) in 2017, based on four strategic areas that focus on job creation, human capital development, business development promotion and the transition to formal labour. This policy is in the process of being updated with advice from the ILO in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the employment sector.
The National Commission for Decent Employment (CONED), made up of the ministerial authorities of labour, education, social development and education, has the authority to follow up on the PNED, through its executive secretariat and the Interinstitutional Technical Committee (MTI) with the participation of technical teams from the aforementioned ministries.
Since 2018, EUROsociAL+ has supported the strengthening of the MTI to progress with the PNED implementation plan. Later, in 2021, EUROsociAL+ provided a second consultancy, making recommendations for reorganising the MTI to continue working on the implementation of the PNED in the framework of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The specialised consultancy recommended that the ministries that make up the MTI prioritise two fundamental aspects that are part of the PNED’s strategic actions. The first aspect is related to the implementation of the National Vocational Training System whose roadmap was built by a specialised consultancy from EUROsociAL+. The second aspect corresponds to the strengthening of the network of employment services made up of a set of municipal service windows that provide job placement and guidance services in more than 15 municipalities in the country, following a set of recommendations that were also presented by the EUROsociAL+ advisory.
The challenges of the implementation phase of employment plans
It is vital for EUROsociAL+ that these employment plans progress to the implementation phase based on three pillars: governance that will guide and implement the roadmap with the programmes and products required to achieve the expected results, the clarity of the viability and financial execution of the plans for the coming years based on results-based management and finally, the adoption of monitoring and evaluation systems for permanent control of the programmatic execution and the adoption of adjustments to implementation plans when necessary.
Finally, it is essential that these plans have a significant impact on the protection, recovery and promotion of new jobs in the coming years, relying on constant synergies between public and private actors, always within the framework of tripartite dialogue and the recognition of the territorial realities. Two great challenges lie ahead; supporting the population that has been most affected regarding employment, especially young people and women, and reducing informal labour that deprives workers of the vast majority of the benefits of protection and social security .
Article by Jaime Ignacio Velilla Castrillón, expert in employment policies of the EUROsociAL+ Programme, Social Policies area