Finding a job and entering the labor market is never easy — information about vacancies may be hard to find, the job seeker’s skills may not exactly match what a company needs, and employers may be reluctant to hire someone they don’t know personally.
To help job seekers overcome such barriers, Bolivia began to expand and enhance coverage of its Employment Services Program (Servicio Plurinacional de Empleo – SPE) in 2010 to include a range of job intermediation services. The program, which is supported by the IDB, provides a one-stop shop for job seekers where they can learn about vacancies, attend job fairs, receive personalized job counseling and referral services, and participate in training and workshops.
Bolivia is among a growing number of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in recent years that have decided to invest in job intermediation to improve the functioning of their labor markets. Evidence from OECD countries and the region indicates that these services are cost-effective in helping workers find jobs and that individuals who use the services have a better chance of finding work than those who search by other means.
The project has financed the operation of 10 new employment service offices and is currently developing a Web portal and a call center that will enable job seekers to access services from anywhere in the country. The goal of the project is to double the number of job seekers it serves to 20,000 a year, and to increase the number of vacancy announcements by employers using the service by 6,000 annually. In particular, the project is looking to reduce the information asymmetry that affects job seekers from poorer households, especially for their first job.
Another project component that benefits young adults who have little access to employment opportunities that would give them the on-the-job training and experience they need to land a permanent job. More than 2,500 young Bolivians have participated in on-the-job training through the project since 2010. Participants receive accident insurance coverage and a three-month stipend paid by the program to cover transportation and other expenses during the training period.
Bolivia is currently evaluating its employment services in order to ensure that all job seekers receive the same quality of services, to strengthen monitoring capabilities, and to guarantee that the results of an impact evaluation to be undertaken in the future will be scientifically accurate.
“Finally, a real opportunity”
For her part, Nadyd Alborta certainly knows what the project has done for her. A 27-year old tourism student, Alborta learned through the project about an on-the-job training program offered at Boliviana de Aviación, the state-owned airline. She enrolled in the program in 2012, and soon after completing the three-month training landed a permanent job with the airline.
“I studied tourism and wanted something related,” she said. “I couldn´t find opportunities but then the program open me the doors to fly. Finally, a real opportunity.”