The always insightful blog at Voices From El Salvador has a recent post about unemployment in El Salvador. The post describes some recent news articles where business complains that there are not enough qualified workers in El Salvador to fill their positions:
[Marco Penado of Manpower El Salvador] says students are not graduating with the skills and experience that human resource managers are looking for, claiming that university students are more interested in the humanities rather than engineering or other technical skills. He also believes that too few Salvadorans speak English, and that in a globalized world defined by trade agreements, corporations that operate in El Salvador require employees that speak English.There are plenty of people looking for work, but there is a mismatch between their skills and the skills employers are looking for. Employers want universities to redesign their curriculum to line up more closely with the needs of corporations. But as the Voices post points out:
The Salvadoran labor market is a little more complex than these articles suggest. It would be nice if solving the country’s unemployment problem were as easy as redesigning university programs and teaching English. The reality is that most Salvadoran youth, especially from those from rural or poor urban communities, do not receive the academic foundation necessary to get into universities. Even if they did, most are unable to afford tuition for a 5-year university or the 3-year technical school programs.The majority of Salvadorans are nowhere close to having a college degree. And I have met many Salvadorans with degrees, but still unemployed or underemployed. Without significant improvement in the education system, workers for skilled jobs will still be few. Without a skilled workforce, the incentive to locate a business in El Salvador is reduced.
And just because someone has an engineering degree from the university does not mean they can get a job. After reading the El Mundo article, we checked in with some of our Salvadoran friends who report that a lot of engineering students are getting teaching certificates because there are not a lot of jobs for graduates – even those who speak English – and teaching may be the only employment opportunity for them.