Lima, June 21, 2011 - The World Bank presented the study “Strengthening skills and employability in Peru” and the video “Beyond ABC and 1,2,3: Skills for Peruvians of the 21st Century,” which highlight the importance of developing socio-emotional skills for employability.
The study analyzes the barriers to accessing the urban labor market in Peru. These include the lack of skills that employers demand from workers, skills credentials, and the lack of information to take advantage of job opportunities. The video shows how Peruvians require multiple socio-emotional skills more than ever, as well as solid cognitive skills, to be well-prepared for the global economy of the 21st Century.
“Developing the skills of all Peruvians is the cornerstone for achieving the dual objective of a Peru with sustained economic growth and social equity,” said Susan Goldmark, new World Bank Director for Peru and the Andean Region. “Peru is now part of the global economy and it has the stability and resources to train its young people in the skills and talents that tomorrow’s labor market will demand. It is in the hands of the new government and Peruvian society as a whole to take advantage of this opportunity,” she added.
The study recognizes that while economic growth in recent years has brought significant improvements to the labor market, employment generation has been insufficient and has not benefitted everyone in equal measure. In addition, real wages and labor productivity experienced only modest growth. Many workers, particularly young people, older workers and unskilled workers, are having difficulties finding employment or are employed in informal jobs with low productivity.
The study is based on a recent survey of employers from 900 companies and a unique survey in Latin America, which for the first time measures the cognitive and socio-emotional skills of the labor force (some 2,700 workers) and how these affect employability. The study was conducted in close collaboration with Peruvian researchers of prestigious institutions such as CIES, CUANTO, GRADE, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP) and the Universidad del Pacífico.
“We find that for both developed countries and middle-income countries such as Peru, cognitive and socio-emotional skills are equally important for achieving a high level of employability,” said Omar Arias, World Bank Human Development Sector Leader and lead author of the study. “For example, perseverance and the level at which an individual strives to achieve short- and long-term goals is worth as much as cognitive ability in the labor market,” he added.
The study identifies two major challenges for strengthening employability and improving employment opportunities in Peru: i) increase efforts and resources to develop workers’ basic skills, especially those of the nine million Peruvian youth who will join a demanding, competitive labor market in 2030; and ii) improve access to information and the quality of options for vocational and professional training and the employment prospects they offer.
• Peruvian employers demand cognitive (communication, math, problem solving) and socio-emotional skills (self-discipline, perseverance, adaptability, teamwork) from workers. Half of the employers interviewed cited the lack of “qualified” personnel (cognitive and technical skills) whereas 40% highlighted workers’ lack of socio-emotional skills.
• The Peruvian labor market places a high value on workers’ cognitive and socio-emotional skills, more so than their educational level. Those with higher levels of these skills obtain better jobs and better pay.
• These cognitive and socio-emotional skills are crucial for social mobility. Gaps in these skills are enormous among Peruvians of different socioeconomic levels (both among children and working-age individuals). These gaps start to form early in life due to unfavorable environments in terms of nutrition and early stimulation and increase with the poor quality of basic education (particularly in rural areas). These skills have more weight in access to higher technical and university education than do the economic resources of families.
• Many Peruvian youth, particularly those from lower-income households, make sub-optimal investments in developing their technical and professional skills because they lack information on better training opportunities and the job prospects that these offer and because of deficiencies in the provision and the regulatory framework of tertiary education and training services.
• Even among workers with higher skill and education levels, many do not manage to strengthen their employability because they have no way to demonstrate or certify their skills or educational level, whether due to the high costs of or difficulties in obtaining certificates or diplomas or because they lack good contacts or references that can vouch for their skills.