Jobs, Not Enough Employees in Panama

Too Many Jobs, Not Enough Employees in Panama…

Saturday, August 16 2014 @ 01:52 PM EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
Views: 8
Employment & JobsPanama’s economy, which grew 8.4% in 2013, spurred the generation of 50,000 new jobs, but the country does not have the skilled labor necessary to meet the demand.
It is estimated in the next five years 250,000 new jobs will be created in different activities of the national economy.

The current government, which has been in office for only a month and a half, aims to identify the specialties in which these personnel are required to form a plan promoted by the Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development.

Starting next Monday there will be the first workshop sponsored by the “Bureau of Public Employment Policy” of Panama, which will aim to train over the next five years some 250 thousand people, among them professionals and technicians.

NUMBERS OF INTEREST – It’s Panama’s unemployment rate, according to the Comptroller General of the Republic is now 4.3%. The government of Ricardo Martinelli invested $353 million in job training programs between 2010 and 2014. (Prensa)

Editor’s Comment: Panama reached what is known as “full employment” a few years ago. Although the unemployment rate remains officially at 4.3% in reality most of the people who are unemployed are basically unemployable. Meaning, they are convicts or have some other sort of criminal record, drug addicts, mental health issues, or they have some other sort of basic fundamental problem which prevents them from seeking or keeping any sort of employment. The rest stubbornly live in the mountains, jungle, or somewhere in the interior where there simply are no jobs and there’s little to no economic activity.

Ricardo Martinelli started easing immigration policies to allow more foreigners to enter Panama and obtain legal employment through the “Melting Pot” program. With this, foreigners could normalize their immigration status so they are in Panama legally. And, they can get a work permit so they can get a job and pay taxes. But now a few years later, most of those people have also already been scooped into the system.

Soon Panama is going to have to start actively recruiting foreigners to come to Panama to work, from other countries. They did a little of this (very gently) with Spain a few years ago.

Basically at this point practically anyone who wants a job, has one. There is a real serious shortage of people with skills – like bilingual Spanish/English. Computer and web skills. There are lots of shortages in specific areas – where there are jobs that employers can’t fill, no matter what. The people who are working in those areas are frequently quitting their jobs to take a position with better pay and benefits from a competitor.

This shortage of labor will serve to keep the brakes on the Panamanian economy somewhat in the mid-term.

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