If you are poor in Latin America and the Caribbean, please don’t only ask your friends and family for job contacts and ideas! As we explained in a previous post, job seekers that have poor contacts themselves, typically only find other low-quality, informal jobs when they ask friends and family, a “vicious cycle” that keeps the poor circulating among a range of poor quality jobs.
This stresses how important is to offer the poor more “formal” methods of connecting to jobs if you want to increase their chances of finding a good quality job. Formal methods most importantly focus on accessing explicit services –employment or what we call intermediation services– that you can walk into, call, or access online. The basic form of these services includes a job matching service (matching job seekers with job openings, bolsa de trabajo in Spanish) and job search assistance (e.g. how to dress, how to interview, how to present your capabilities and skills).
What we are learning in the Inter-American Development Bank is that public and private employment services in Latin America and the Caribbean have been innovating in important ways, and more often than not, together. They are expanding the range and type of services offered –labor market information, training, social assistance, career development, migration – and are working much more closely with employers (see Mazza, 2013, cases of Mexico, Brazil, Honduras, among others.) Once crusty offices are modernizing to provide computer-based services and labor market information. We have found they are emerging as “intermediation” services linking often disparate programs for training, social assistance and other services, as such, they are beginning to look different than the versions seen in the developed countries.
The first phase of this evolution is when countries have “reestablished” a public employment service on a more modern basis with new relationships with employers (e.g. Dominican Republic, Honduras). But many countries in the region are now well into a second phase when they are dramatically expanding coverage, efficiency and services (e.g. Mexico, Chile). We’re now foresee a future phase; what we could define as a third phase of development where labor intermediation connects workers to a “public-private” network of job brokers and to human capital development (education, training and workforce development).
In the next posts, we will talk more about what Latin American and Caribbean services are doing to move through the different phases and the tremendous opportunities it brings to break the “friends and family”cycle.