On 2018, more than 180,000 students graduated from high school after 12 years of studying and with the hope of finding a formal employment opportunity to enroll in university and provide economic resources to their homes. Nevertheless, only around 20,000 of them actually find a job opportunity on a formal company, and the rest a pushed to become part of the country’s high informality levels.
These figures are disturbing because when young Guatemalans are not able to find a place to develop their professional capabilities, they are not only left to informal jobs but also opens the possibility for them to migrate to the United States. Therefore, we as AGEXPORT’s Contact Center & BPO Sector established an alliance with the Labor Ministry and the Ministry of Education to implement a pilot plan to teach English on public schools. This plan will start at the National Trade Sciences School, where 200 students from accounting careers will learn English as a work tool and be able to have more employment opportunities at the call center industry once they graduate; said Mrs. Ninoshka Linde, Manager of AGEXPORT’s Contact Center & BPO Sector.
Students enrolled in this pilot plan were informed of the current employment situation in Guatemala and the need to have bilingual accountants to work at the Contact Center & BPO industry. With English knowledge, these students will have access to employments with monthly salaries of around Q5,000.
Learning English will not only provide the students a tool to improve their communication skills, its is also a labor tool that would give them access to jobs on one of the industries that focus on young Guatemalans and allow them to improve their wellbeing by being able to continue in university while also providing monetary resources to their families; said Mr. Gabriel Aguilera, Labor Minister.
Students also received free access to an online platform to continue improving their English knowledge, with additional training of 160 hours, accessible from any mobile device.
Contact center companies are the best employment source for the youth, not only because the jobs of this industry are well compensated but also because these companies allow people without a university degree to work on a formal company with many benefits. Because of this, it is key for Guatemala to strengthen the population’s capabilities (especially among children) in languages, starting with English. We call the upcoming government authorities for 2020-2023 to create the adequate conditions to attract both national and foreign investments, as well as public-private partnerships, and add more jobs to the 42,000 that the call center industry already creates in Guatemala; said Mrs. Linde.
Training the national talent pool on functional English will create as many as 60,000 more jobs on the call center & BPO industry during the upcoming four years, implying more than 210,000 adding the indirect jobs created by these companies. English training will also benefit other industries such as tourism, e-commerce, tech companies and other services, which could create as many as 600,000 new jobs in the country.
Yet, this would require two parallel efforts to guarantee success in the medium run:
- An English-teaching system to be implemented on different high schools located on prioritized cities of the country. The most efficient way would be with online platforms that teach functional English oriented on giving students the necessary knowledge to work at a call center. Schools would also need to acquire IT hardware and software to run the platform.
- Expand existing English-teaching programs such as the “Finishing School” program developed by AGEXPORT’s Contact Center & BPO Sector and implemented by INTECAP that involve students on a full-time English program designed for high-school graduates that are unemployed and need to improve their English knowledge to be employed at a call center.