InterAmerican Development Bank-funded study shows Belize’s job seekers lack skills required by private sector
An employability study conducted in Belize has revealed that those seeking jobs are lacking in skilled labor as is needed in the private sector. The study, funded by the InterAmerican Development Bank, was recently analyzed by government officials with an aim to see how they can further reduce the unemployment rate. Love News spoke on the findings of the study with CEO in the Ministry of Economic Development, Dr Osmond Martinez.
Osmond Martinez, CEO, Ministry of Economic Development: “One of the complaints that we keep getting from the private sector is that they don’t have access to qualified skilled labor that will be able to match their demand and therefore there are new opportunities that are coming online you know for example digitalization, robotic, data science and then this is the future but what about the problems we have now ? Access to project managers, monitoring and evaluation specialists, procurement specialists and this is just to name a few. One of the main things that came out which was very interesting from the study is that much or a high percentage of our labor force is moving onto the service sector which means now that the service sector is sector is starting to increase in Belize and we can see it within the BPOs but again we have issues there and challenges there and constraints because the BPOs have said listen out of ten applications that come in only two qualify to be interviewed so there is a huge market nonetheless, there is also some challenges that needs to be looked at and the study also did highlight that.”
CEO Osmond noted that there were other challenges and concerns presented in the Employability in Belize study; among them is gender equality.
Osmond Martinez, CEO, Ministry of Economic Development: “And another very important point that the study highlighted is that there is not equal opportunities for women and that is a part or a sector that we will need to improve. The Briceno administration has done a significant effort in terms of gender quality but this is something that still you know needs more attention and the government is working towards gender equality and policies are being put in place as well by the Ministry of Human Development. Some examples were placed by two women that did the presentation. So for example one of the presenters who is from Sweden she said that there is in Sweden there is the famous 412 which is 4:12 PM which means that 4:12 PM the women work for free until five or six whatever time they’re out but what it means is basically if in the post that I am if I’m getting x amount of money a woman should get the same amount of money and this is a problem that we have seen it globally for example the United States who is a powerful nation continues to have these challenges. They’re working hard, we must acknowledge that part that they’re working hard to achieve gender equality but the most important part is that a woman should be treated with the same respect in terms of salaries, benefits and overall sum of monies as a male professional would.”
So, what will the government do with all those findings? According to CEO Dr Martinez, there will be the need for several ministries to collaborate.
Osmond Martinez, CEO, Ministry of Economic Development: “Then there are a few things that we can do. One is work with academia. So academia now has a guidance because a problem has been identified. Two, is to see how we can do more capacity building in terms of short term courses and again we will have to do it with academia, academia are the ones who have this speciality and the experts to help us to supply the demand within the labor force and the labor market.”
Further research also revealed that female students are at a disadvantage in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Emma Naslund-Hadley, Lead Education Specialist for the IDB, also highlights that “the analysis of the study shows that many women who are trained in the exact sciences do not work in their fields of study. In fact, they are something of an untapped resource for economic growth, particularly given Belize’s increasing need for an educated workforce and women constituting two thirds of people with a higher education attainment.” The 2023 survey results support these findings with 44.5% of teachers surveyed believing that there are gender discrimination and/or stereotypes against female students in STEM education and training, while some 40% of female employers hold the same view of differential treatment of women in STEM education and training.