The New Latin American Industrial Revolution
Last week, the World Economic Forum hosted a regional meeting for Latin America in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where delegations from more than two dozen countries from Central and South America met to discuss trends in development, innovation, trade and industrialization. Despite the winds of nationalism that are blowing across the North, Latin America is embracing globalization and regional integration as its new technology and manufacturing enterprises seek market opportunities beyond their home countries. For many of those companies, English language provides the passport to international growth.
The subject of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – the new innovations in manufacturing driven by data, robotics and other technologies – was high on the agenda. This trend is transforming manufacturing from unskilled assembly work to professional work requiring a much more highly-trained workforce. According to the report from the World Economic Forum on its website:
The solution for Latin America to take advantage of the opportunity the Fourth Industrial Revolution presents and succeed in the new digital economy has two parts: educating and connecting its people. Let’s start with educating. To compete in the digital economy, Latin America needs a workforce that is trained in essential and emerging networking skills, as well as non-technical skills like proficiency in English, team work, problem solving, creativity and innovation, and communication. But according to a recent IDC study, Latin America will lack 449,152 IT professionals who are trained in these skills by 2019. [emphasis added]
For many companies at the forefront of this growth, the need for skilled workers is not being met by the educational system. Some of the technical training for new equipment is available primarily or exclusively in English, and the strongest global communities of practice around new industrial workforce methods take place in English.
With so much opportunity on the line in a region primed for growth and innovation, and so much competition for the skilled labor necessary to enable that growth, Latin American businesses should look to outside partners who can help build the foundations for workforce development. For example, organizations can take the first step by providing employees with the tools to learn Business English.