Several years ago I wrote about AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson’s comments that AT&T was having trouble finding enough Americans with the right qualifications to fill several thousand call center jobs the company planned to move from India back to the U.S. His comments should serve as a wake-up call that the U.S. should invest more in its public educational system, I wrote.
In a later blog post, I noted the low high school graduation rates in some American cities and said those rates could make it tough to fill the kinds of jobs that fall somewhere between high-paying, technical positions like those found at Microsoft and minimum-wage work at places like McDonald’s.
The U.S. could learn something from Latin American countries that are fast-tracking the training of young adults for jobs that will improve their lives while boosting the numbers of potential employees for services firms.
Mike Barrett, the CEO of software development company Unosquare, during a presentation at last month’s Nearshore Nexus event spoke about the role services companies like his can play in providing good jobs for workers in Latin America. He also encouraged outsourcing clients to do their part by making sure their suppliers treat their employees well.
How LatAm Does It
A growing number of companies like Unosquare are creating corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs that focus on equipping young people with sought-after technical skills.
Services company Globant just received the Foundations for the Future Award from the Nearshore Executive Alliance for its TesteAR program that has trained some 150 Argentinean youths to be software testers. More than 85 percent of the trainees have found employment, said Francisco J. Michref, Globant’s CSR Coordinator.
“The goal of TesteAR is to rescue vulnerable young adults, who neither work nor study. We have also extended a helping hand for the students to land a right job in a right company,” Michref said.
Participants are schooled in computer basics and the English language, in addition to software testing. They receive $150 in monthly scholarship and travel expenses during the training.
Globant funded the program out of its own pocket for two years, though municipal authorities now contribute 50 percent of the training costs.
Victoria Prussen Spears, co-founder and CEO of Global Outsourcing Information, spotlighted several successful training efforts, many of which feature cooperation between government agencies, universities and private companies, in an article that appeared in a recent Nearshore Executive Alliance newsletter. In Mexico, for instance, a nonprofit called MexicoFirst has spent $40 million to certify 40,000 Mexicans in hot programming languages such as Java and .NET.
Some countries make the mistake of focusing on upgrading technical infrastructure before building workforces, Spears pointed out. “Without a trained workforce, businesses will not come, no matter how impressive the infrastructure or how generous the financial incentives,” she wrote.