We’re witnessing a new boom in the audiovisual industry in Latin America and the Caribbean. Financially speaking, it’s estimated that in 2019 alone, more than $5.7 billion US dollars were invested in audiovisual productions, which led to the creation of more than 1.6 million direct and indirect jobs in Latin America, according to a study from Olsberg SPI .And the opportunities extend beyond the merely economic: they also have an impact on our cultural identity and the chance to share our stories with the rest of the world. This brings us to a question: how can we continue to drive growth in this industry?
Today, we’re presenting the publication “Behind the Camera: Creativity and Investment for Latin America and the Caribbean,” with the support of Netflix, which demonstrates the need to develop skills and offer training to creative talent so that the industry can continue to grow. It’s based on conversations with nearly 100 emerging creators, producers, entertainment executives, government officials, and film association professionals, who helped identify both opportunities and challenges.
Shared Priority: Invest in human capital and skill development in the creative industry
In a survey of more than 400 producers, 58% indicated that the region does not have talent with the necessary technical skills to work on new productions. The study identifies two major opportunities to nurture the growth of more professionals in the audio-visual industry and, in so doing, grow the workforce. The first is by creating sufficient courses, academic programs, and other training opportunities within educational institutions. The second is by ensuring that courses of study are more closely tied to what the market needs.
The audiovisual industry is part of the regional focus on development. It’s impossible to innovate, develop new industries, and compete in the global economy when more than half the population hasn’t completed secondary education— or when young people do finish school but still don’t have the skills and knowledge they need for the 21st century. The policies and initiatives undertaken jointly by the public and private sectors need to focus not only on the youth already in the workforce, but also those who are on the verge of joining. Education needs to provide these students with concrete tools—ones they need to succeed in life and which will not decrease in usefulness over time. On the contrary, these tools should become more valuable and enable them to acquire even more skills. Educational systems need to invest in portable skills that can move from one job to the next, and which don’t become useless or outdated.
Workforce Skills for Audiovisual Production in the Region
As the industry diversifies, innovates, and comes to reflect the needs of the global marketplace, the professionals behind the camera need to have technical skills that are up to the task. The speed with which the market is transforming and adapting to changes in technology, as well as the difficulties that formal education and training systems have when it comes to responding to new demands, have become obstacles for many people in the industry. One piece of good news: not only has there been an increase in post-secondary education programs, but they have diversified, extending as well to vocational education.
Additionally, the study emphasizes the urgent need to invest in and update training for professionals in the creative industry (also known as above and below the line skills), so that they can meet the recognized global quality standards that the industry demands. Among these are the so-called 21st-century skills, which are vital for adapting to the future of the industry and the impact of the digitalization and automation of labor. The industry has to be a key partner in designing policies regarding education and training as well as solutions; in helping identify skill gaps and determining if training programs are relevant and effective; and also in offering opportunities for continuing education and development to its employees through upskilling and reskilling programs. The industry is not only a consumer of talent. It also contributes to broadening and diversifying the education and training options on offer.
New Hotspots, New Opportunities
Since countries in the region are at different stages of development, the study also addresses how to strengthen audiovisual production from those countries with the best-developed audiovisual sectors that are seeking global investment, to emerging markets that are still in the process of developing film-related services and audiovisual hubs so they can position themselves regionally and globally. The study spotlights countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and Chile which are already in the process of strengthening audiovisual production as a means of attracting global investments. Additionally, this report identifies emerging markets in Uruguay, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia, as well as the Argentine regions of Cordoba and Mendoza.
Lastly, we can’t talk about the importance of the television and film industry without mentioning its positive impact on other sectors, such as infrastructure, tourism and services. The development of this industry aligns with the IDB’s Vision 2025, a guide to sustainable and inclusive economic development, since it will spur the creation of skilled jobs—as well as the post-pandemic economic recovery—by supporting the creative and digital economy.
This publication is part of a series of initiatives to diversify creative talent and develop cross-disciplinary skills in Latin America and the Caribbean through the 21st-Century Skill Initiative, which supports the adoption of a new era of public policies, in pursuit of a more creative, inclusive and prosperous future for the entertainment industry.
To download and read the full report (available in Spanish and Portuguese), click here .
 Olavarría, D., Mateo Diaz, M. and Luzardo, A (Eds.) 2021. Detrás De Cámaras: Creatividad E Inversión para América Latina y el Caribe [Behind the Camera: Creativity and Investment for Latin America and the Caribbean]. Washington DC: Inter-American Development Bank. include link to publication)
 Netflix is part of the 21st Century Skills Coalition, a multi-sector partnership that looks for synergies between the public and private sectors in order to train current and future talent through educational and training programs in the 26 borrowing member nations of the IADB.