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COVID-19 Calls on Workforce to Turn Up the Volume on Lifelong Learning

JULY 7th 2020

*Article originally published at CR Biz from Howler Magazine: https://bit.ly/3gH8ech

July 1, 2020. Ready or not, life implies change. Many of us have reflected on this over the last four months since COVID-19 arrived in Costa Rica. Our world is now marked by a distinct before and after.

The labor market has also come to this conclusion, amid adjustments to a more virtualized world and physical distancing among employees.

“Inertia is not our best companion, at this time,” commented Vanessa Gibson, Director of Investment Climate at the Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency (CINDE).

Together with the non-profit organization, Gibson has helped the more than 320 multinational companies established in Costa Rica to best adapt to the changes generated by COVID-19.

The world labor market has been hit so hard that the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that 6.7% of the world’s work hours will disappear in the year’s second quarter — a figure that represents 195 million full-time workers.

However, these changes to professional life were already in evidence, thanks to what is known as the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0. In January, the United Nations reminded the world that Industry 4.0 would involve the retraining or “reskilling” of one billion people, between now and 2030.

These adaptations are further reinforced by the “new reality” that we’re living. Today, more than ever, we are staring down an accelerator that pushes us to adapt more quickly to new skills.

“The skills that the job market today most requires may be very different tomorrow,” Gibson noted. "For this reason, lifelong learning is not only a solution but a necessity to keep up in our jobs,” she added. 


Solutions

Since April, Coursera, an international online learning platform, has enabled a program for those unemployed due to the pandemic. This effort has been carried out in various countries, with the intention that their governments take advantage of the opportunity to reskill their human talent.

In mid-June, Costa Rica joined this initiative, which will grant scholarships to 50,000 unemployed workers. This will allow them to train and readjust their professional profile to find more job opportunities, in light of the labor market’s evolving needs.

The Coursera program is a joint initiative between CINDE and Costa Rica’s Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Foreign Trade, and the Presidency of the Republic. After a diagnostic test, scholarship recipients will undertake courses from prestigious universities, recognized worldwide, so that they may fill those gaps in their professional profiles that currently prevent them from qualifying for more positions.

Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera, explained during his video announcement of the initiative in Costa Rica: “Citizens will have access to courses from the best universities in the world, as well as programs such as Google’s IT Support Professional Certificate, which quickly trains people lacking in technical expertise for jobs in information technology.”

This is just one of many solutions. In April, CINDE also enabled a recruitment platform for those unemployed in the tourism sector, as well as other industries. Those interested can learn more at covid.cinde.org/talento.

We face many challenges, without a doubt. The pandemic reminds us of how important it is to increase our volume to reskilling and to lifelong learning as the knowledge economy calls for awareness. The more we level up in our knowledge, innovate, learn more languages, and reinforce our skills, the more professional opportunities will reveal themselves.