Find out how foreign companies are helping to close the gaps that make it difficult for young talent to get a job in Colombia

Date: 5 April, 2022

As part of the strategy to recruit the best young talent, many foreign companies in Colombia are managing initiatives and offering training programs to close the existing gaps in employability, salaries, knowledge, and skills among young Colombian talent and what the companies need.

According to the National Administrative Department of Statistics of Colombia (DANE, for its initials in Spanish), more than 21% of the young people in the country are currently unemployed. Due to this, the new dynamics of work and the skills that corporate environments are seeking, some foreign companies in Colombia are implementing new strategies to develop young human talent.

Among these initiatives, the companies offer training programs to their employees and young people, and are also focused on the development of the soft skills and technical knowledge of their potential workers, as was discussed in a virtual event organized by Invest in Bogota in which foreign companies such as Arcos Dorados, Publicis Groupe, and PageGroup took part.

The first job gap

One of the main difficulties young people face when starting their working life is getting their first job, due to their lack of work experience. However, there are companies, such as McDonald’s, for which soft skills are the most decisive factor when recruiting a person. “We don’t require experience, diplomas, or certificates. Any person with skills such as service attitude and assertive communication is eligible to work with us,” claims Adriana Garzón, corporate communications director of Arcos Dorados.

This company, the owner of the McDonald’s franchise for Latin America, employs more than 90,000 people in the region. Of these, 70% are under 24 years old, and for many of them, this is their first formal job.

In this way, as well as allowing the young people to start a career, this company offers personal and professional development programs to help young people grow beyond their work in the enterprise.

“We have initiatives to support young people in eliminating barriers to fight unemployment. One of them is access to free-of-charge training and open courses. For the first time, we opened our McDonald’s Corporate University to allow young talent to complement their CVs with relevant training and certificates,” says Garzón.

Bilingualism and specialized knowledge gaps

Another barrier to getting a job in Colombia is the lack of knowledge of a second language and specific digital skills. “Anyone who speaks English is able to work anywhere. That’s a premise that we currently have. That is a big differential among people. Besides this, specialized knowledge is what the professional market values the most. Specialized knowledge and experience make it easier to find a good job,” claims Felipe Delgado, director of PageGroup Colombia.

In this regard, Natalia Botero, Latam Growth VP of Publicis Groups, states that the company has a program to train new talents who then become part of the company. The participants are remunerated for learning skills and topics that are not well known in the country, such as software development, digital marketing, data engineering, and data science, among others.

“We understand that not everybody in the country has specialized knowledge in these areas. So, we have developed projects to educate and train young talent in the skills we need to have in our organization. Due to this, we have a program focused on university and college graduates or people in their last semesters of study,” says Botero.

In addition to these efforts made by the private sector, Colombia and Bogota’s governments are working hand in hand with institutions such as Invest in Bogota to close the existing gaps in terms of bilingualism and technology knowledge.

“We observe that the companies, especially the foreign ones operating in Bogota, require bilingual human talent and talent specialized in different technologies. As a result, we collaborate with the public and the private sectors to understand these gaps and support public policies and programs aimed at closing those barriers”, states María Isabella Muñoz, Executive director of Invest in Bogota, the foreign investment promotion agency that has assisted in the arrival of over 420 foreign projects to Bogota, resulting in the creation of more than 51,200 direct jobs in the city.

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