As Argentina recovered from the economic crisis of 2001-2002 and the structure of the economy changed, effective macroeconomic management helped to establish four years of pro-poor growth. As the currency depreciated, manufacturing and the tradable sectors increased exports and absorbed more labor and unskilled workers. As a result, unemployment dropped significantly. In order to sustain this growth over the medium-term, however, Argentina needed to improve the investment climate and raise productivity levels and the quality of exports. The government identified education and training as major priorities in achieving its goals of poverty reduction and job creation. Secondary education was becoming a minimum requirement for access to good jobs. Thus, Argentina needed to invest in the less skilled through additional education and training for school leavers who had not completed secondary education.
The objectives of the World Bank-funded Lifelong Learning and Training Project were to promote employment and reduce poverty by improving training and education opportunities. The project was the first of its type to use a results-based approach in Argentina. It proposed measures to increase the linkages between the education system and the labor market and improve the vocational education and training system. Through such comprehensive activities as general training, adult education, and internships, the project also promoted the idea of a system of lifelong-learning. The project also supported the creation or support of entities that provide employment and educational services, such as professional training institutes, adult education services of provincial Ministries of Education, and municipal employment offices. The decision to deliver the services in a decentralized approach, through the (strengthened) municipal employment offices, was crucial for the project’s success and showed that the rates of return to lifelong learning are substantial at the secondary school level for both youths and adults.
The project supported the government’s efforts to enhance employability for disadvantaged adults 18 years or older and strengthen a lifelong learning and competency-based training system. Between 2008 and 2013, these objectives were translated into the following outcomes:
- Since 2011, the Ministry of Labor has passed legal resolutions to institutionalize the Lifelong Learning System.
- 53.8 percent adults with competences certified obtained registered employment or higher salary (40,580 adults).
- 48.7 percent of adults receiving basic education certificates continued training or education, obtained registered employment or higher salary (45,910 adults).
- 56 percent of youth participating in internships are formal employed (12,114 youth).
- 314 competency-based occupational standards registered by sector groups.
- 442 training institutions strengthened and 150 with a quality certification.
- 388,078 workers participated in competency-based training courses.
Bank Group Contribution
The World Bank provided financing of US$200 million starting in 2007. Total cost, including the contribution from the client was US$678 million in five years. Bank supports’ included specialized consultancy services, promotional materials, and operating costs to support the work of the technical units; training of participants and sector experts by the Ministry of labor in the competency-based approach and the equipment and supplies needed by the different organizations to carry out their functions.
The Ministry of Labor was the implementing agency for the Lifelong Learning and Training Project. The municipal employment offices network was key in the context of Promotion of Youth Employment. Internships and Training were provided in collaboration with the Sector Council integrated by Unions and Firms. Agreements with provincial ministries of education were signed for the adults’ education activities.
The Ministry of Labor’s budget for 2014 includes the activities previously financed by the project. The Ministry will continue to provide promotion of youth employment activities (orientation/soft skills courses and professional training), supported by an upcoming World Bank-financed project. The gains achieved through improvements in the integration and use of data bases will continue to be felt.
The primary target group was disadvantaged adults 18 years or older. The Ministry of Labor and the entities providing employment and educational services also benefited from the capacity-building activities to install a lifelong learning and training system linked to employment.