Saturday, October 20, 2012

Guatemala: Guatemalan Private Sector Launches Initiative to Create 1.2 Million Jobs


Unemployment is becoming the global challenge of the 21st century. For countries like Guatemala, both unemployment and underemployment are hitting all time highs. This is exacerbating the vicious cycle of poverty, which impacts young people the most, condemning an entire nation to failure. Guatemala is only generating roughly 20,000 new jobs per year which falls far short of the 140,000 young people who enter the labor market. Their options are few; emigrate to the US, start informal activities like street vending, or fall into the claws of organized crime.

In order to tackle this issue, the Guatemalan Development Foundation (FUNDESA), the private sector's economic development think tank, together with CACIF ( The Association of Guatemalan Chambers), launched the large scale thought and action initiative "Guatemalans, let's improve Guatemala". The actions and technical proposals to generate a more productive country were presented at the annual celebration of the 9th edition of ENADE (National Business Forum).

The initiative seeks to lay-down a roadmap which incorporates proposals and ideas from different sectors who share the vision of building a more prosperous, caring and safer Guatemala. National and international experts created technically solid proposals, which were enriched through open dialogue with leaders from the business sectors, civil society, government officials and former officials. Salvador Paiz, Vice President of FUNDESA and one of the driving forces behind this initiative, indicates, "We seek to leave conflict behind and instead look towards cooperation as our future. We are putting forth a technically sound and holistic proposal to generate 1.2mm jobs and, in the process, reduce poverty by half over the next ten years."

Historically, the country grows at a rate of 3.7% annually but population grows at 2.4%, which means it will take over 50 years to double the per capita income. Only by achieving an annual growth rate of 6.34%, would Guatemala reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2021, the most important being, to reduce the country's overall poverty from 53% to 31.4%.

In order to gain national buy-in, FUNDESA and CACIF presented the initiative in an innovative way which stressed the importance of cooperation. The President of Guatemala, the President of the Supreme Court, along with key private sector, cooperative and labor organization leaders came together as Team Guatemala and pedaled their way to faster employment generation.

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