For decades, Latin American managers have complained about the gap between their companies' needs and the training provided by universities and vocational colleges. For decades, experts have tried different ways to bring the two sectors closer together, though results so far have been disappointing.
The business community, through more action and less complaining, is capable of providing the solution to this discussion, in which governments almost always come out badly.
Workplace training has been shown to provide an enormous return on investment. Researchers from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) have found that, in Latin American companies with more than 100 empoyees, an increase of 1% in the proportion of personnel trained increases productivity by 0.7%.
That's why the answer to employee training could be found within companies and unions, and not in universities or finance ministries. It's an old formula.
In the 1980s, Citibank was a sophisticated school for bankers. Recently hired staff received rigorous theoretical training while focusing entirely on practical issues. The result was that "Citibankers" were almost without peers, the best in the Latin American financial system.
The bank knew that only a few recruits would stay on. It was also aware that countries were benefitting from this at no cost, because many of the bank's "alumni" became presidents of local banks.
Even so, Citi maintained its investment. The bank benefitted by producing excellent professionals among its middle managers and burnished its reputation of being better than the competition.
Fast-forward to 2017. That year...