Social Innovation

3 ways Latin America can bridge its skills gap

Gina Badenoch
Founder, Capaxia UK
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Social Innovation?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Latin America is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Latin America

Unemployment is increasing around the world, according to a new report by the International Labour Organization, titled World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2015. By 2019, more than 212 million people will be out of work – up from 201 million today.

ManpowerGroup’s Talent Shortage Survey finds that more flexible recruitment processes would help to overcome recruiting difficulties, for example by hiring applicants who do not possess all the required skills but show potential for learning. Only 7% of those surveyed said that they are willing to redefine qualifying criteria in the face of recruitment difficulties.

It is clear that while more people are becoming jobless, there is also a fundamental mismatch between skills and job vacancies in the world we live in. I would argue that this is due to the continued use of an outdated recruitment methodology, which is no longer fit for purpose.

The current curriculum vitae-based recruitment approach has not changed since the 1940s. It was designed and conceived for a different age, one where people were chosen and retained for one area of expertise, to be practised throughout their career.

A holistic approach to talent

Humanity has since seen an evolution in technology. Today, we live in an era of overstimulation; we have access to all sorts of knowledge, opportunities, talent demographics and cultures. We are living in a volatile world full of uncertainty and constant change. The skillsets that business and industry need today are vastly different to those of 70 years ago.

It’s time we found a new system, one that is able to identify talent in a holistic manner. There is a huge and untapped pool of talent that is invisible to the current recruitment methodology. While potential employees have never before been so educated, holding a university degree is no longer a guarantee of finding work. How much focus does the current mainstream recruitment process place on investing in diversity, innovation, authenticity, loyalty and motivation? Or on people who can offer a multidisciplinary approach to their work?

How do we shift the paradigm and change the methodology? For the past two years I have been working closely with different corporate human resources departments, talent agencies, head hunters and job centres to understand where the gap is in order to connect with talent. Our conclusions are as follows:

  • In selecting people for jobs, we must create awareness of how “mental blindness” stops us from focusing on the potential and life experience of the candidate in order to identify their transferable skills for use in the workforce. Mental blindness refers to our unconscious bias, including cultural stereotypes that do not allow us to connect with the real identity of a person in order to understand what the true value of their potential is to an employer.
  • Start asking the right questions. Focus on candidates’ life experience and their potential impact on the environment they will be working in. We need to make sure the process of identifying talent is a learning and enjoyable experience for both the potential employee and the employer.
  • Manage the paradigm change with organizations recruiting talent and organizations receiving talent. Focus more resources into making sure that people are trained in the right skills. Encourage the organizations receiving new talent and their HR departments to adopt and embrace tools and practices to identify potential and transferable skills.

Daniel’s story

Daniel is a young man in his twenties, who comes from a humble background. He was eager but unable to afford to study at university. Instead, he worked as a mechanic and helped his uncle to organize events. Daniel, by the way, is visually impaired.

He was keen to progress and went through training based on making conscious the unconscious skillset learned throughout life, identifying people’s purpose, strengthening their creativity, curiosity, attitude and basic technical skills. After six months, Daniel was selected by Unilever to work in their Customer Development department and, within a year, he is now studying at university and earning three times as much as he used to. His achievements, productivity, commitment, loyalty and ability to add a different perspective to the team was recognized by his employer.

This is an example of the social and economic mobility that can be achieved when investing in untapped potential and believing in what people can achieve. People, purpose, potential and possibility (the four Ps) are all part of learning about a candidate’s life experience and connecting with their identity, rather than just their CV.

Progress is about changing and adapting. There has been an unprecedented evolution in technology in the past 70 years, which has fundamentally changed the way we live and view the world. But the gap is increasing between the skills currently identified in candidates and the vacancies offered by the workplace. It is time to re-examine the recruitment process and make a fundamental change in the way we identify talent, skills and potential.

The World Economic Forum on Latin America 2015 takes place in Riviera Maya, Mexico, from 6-8 May.

Author: Gina Badenoch, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Ojos que Sienten, Young Global Leader

Image: Job seekers attend a job fair in San Jose February 22, 2014. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Social InnovationJobs and the Future of Work
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

How the right legal frameworks can catalyze a social enterprise surge

Isis Bous and Allison Laubach

June 4, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum