30 de January 2013

Talk to the World, Bogota's English learning program prepared 12,000 bilingual people to enter the labor market

Bilingualism, Talk to the World, T2W
Talk to the World
  • The Secretary of Economic Development (SDDE) and Invest in Bogota led this program between 2008 and 2012, whose initial goal was to certify 10,000 people in high level english skills; a goal that was exceeded by close to 20%. 

  • 76% of its students live in low income households.

  • A study conducted by CMR Lab found that 85% of the beneficiaries believe that the program is a good quality project, and nine out of ten students would recommend it.

  • Most of the beneficiaries finished university studies in: administrative areas (17%), modern languages and literature (10%), systems and IT engineering (8%), education (6%) and electronics engineering and the like (5%).

Talk to the World, Bogota's English learning program prepared 12,000 bilingual people to enter the labor market

The City of Bogota, through its Secretary of Economic Development (SDDE) has financed the city's English learning program: Talk to the World (T2W) since 2008. The program, executed by Invest in Bogota, seeks to respond to the human resource needs by companies in Bogota, and to generate labor opportunities for high added value sectors. Although Talk to the World's 2008 - 2012 goal was to certify 10.000 people, actual figures report close to 12.000 certified in high level english skills, which means initial expectations were exceeded.

For David Melo, representative for Invest in Bogota, "Bilingualism is a key element that determines city's growth and improves its inhabitants’ quality of life.. It is for this reason that T2W's road map is to train bilingual personnel to attend the added value sectors that generate quality jobs and transfer knowledge and technology. It is important for the city to improve its offering and to continue designing tailor-made programs to satisfy the demands in terms of labor competencies in said sectors". 

The BPO industry, for example, is at the top of the list of reasons why bilingualism strengthens the economy and the generation of jobs in Bogota. Although this industry is capable of generating many jobs, Bogota faces the challenge of continuing to increase its supply of individuals of working ages, who are also bilingual in both English / Spanish, as well as in Portuguese / Spanish. 

At this time, the BPO industry in Colombia has generated about 72,000 jobs, 55% of which are consolidated in Bogota. During the 2006 - 2011 period, the BPO / Non-Voice sector grew at a rate of 17%, and generated revenues estimated in US$ 2,776 million dollars for the city.  Furthermore, the BPO / Voice sector generated estimated sales in Colombia of US$ 820 million, in 2011.

Assessment of the Results from the Program. 

Invest in Bogota contracted CMR Lab to assess the program. The work methodology involved qualitative and quantitative stages, through interviews and surveys to graduates from the T2W program, as well as officials and teachers.  

In terms of satisfaction levels, 85% of beneficiaries believe that the program is a good quality project, and nine out of ten students would recommend it. 77% of beneficiaries are satisfied with the Program, 81% are satisfied with the classes taken, and 70% are satisfied with the assessment and certification process. 

Most of the beneficiaries of the T2W program agree that they improved their communication skills on the language they learned, and that the impact that the courses have had over their abilities to read and listen in English is remarkable.

Furthermore, beneficiaries from the program feel that improving their English level has had a positive impact on their labor lives (they improved their access to information, and have greater chances of getting a promotion or a raise, and have greater access to training). It is worth noting that, among the beneficiaries of the program who are in high-school or university levels, the advantages most frequently perceived are related to an improvement in their ability to learn and greater access to information. 

Population surveyed.  

The individuals who participated in the study are mostly located in Suba, Usaquén, Kennedy, Engativa, Fontibon and Chapinero. Women account for 48% of this population, while men account for 52%.  All are in working ages, mostly between 18 and 36 years of age. Most of them finished university studies in: administrative areas, modern languages and literature, systems and IT engineering, education and electronics engineering and the like.

70% are currently working (75% of this group are employed and 25% are self-employed).  25% of individuals are unemployed, and 5% are studying. With regards to socio-economic levels, 49% live in level 3 income households, 24% in level 2, and 18% in level 4.  Income level 1 households represent 3% of the total population.  

Approximately 42% of the program's beneficiaries are currently working in one of the sectors defined as a priority for T2W (IT and technology, customer service, telecommunications, support and process outsourcing services, and tourism. 

What do the beneficiaries of Talk to the World have to say? 

Ignacio Laiton, Professor and researcher in physics.
"Talk to the World is a great opportunity to improve our English level, free of charge.  The course has allowed us to reach and get certified in a B2 English Level, which will allow us to improve our labor opportunities. I got the most out of it, as in any other condition it would've been impossible for me to pay for a course of such an excellent quality".  

Alejandra Ferro Henao, Accountant.  
"Bogota has many professionals who are very good at what they do; not being bilingual is a significant obstacle at the time of competing with other professionals, especially now that foreign investment is growing.  I thank the SDDE and Invest in Bogota for thinking of programs to help develop the city, such as Talk to the World".