About social innovation social, flexicurity, and predictagility: an overview on our labour markets

01, May

By Martin Padulla for staffingamericalatina   A few years ago we started to hear that the only thing that is ...

By Martin Padulla for staffingamericalatina


A few years ago we started to hear that the only thing that is permanent is change. Some people underestimated the importance of this concept, others were able to understand the new context and quickly adapted to it, but many were not up to the challenge.

In Latin America, the Establishment was the social sector that clanged the most to a status quo that had already disappeared.

Such underestimation of the importance of change brought along a dissociation among people’s training, businesses’ needs, the uncertainties of new generations trying to enter the labour markets, and regulatory frameworks.

Social innovation emerged as the key variable to deal with these fast-paced changes. The logical path to combine labour markets new trends with helping workers in issues such as inactivity, diseases, retirement, employability, data privacy, work-life balance, and access to credit or households.

It was at this point that the first symptoms of the anachronistic perspectives of policy makers, particularly those involved in the world of work, became evident. While in many cases prevailed, and still does, a concept of work based on a single type of permanent labour contract, informality continues to grow and social protection decreases.

In many countries, this situation was left behind with the emergence of the concept of flexicurity. Private employment agencies contributed to make labour markets more dynamic by providing flexibility for business and security and formality for workers. In those countries where a biased vision prevails, informality levels are higher, and so is unemployment.

While many countries were able to solve this false dilemma, and many others could not escape a concept of work that belongs to the 1940s, a new challenge came up: the growth of the gig economy, the emergence of platform work, and new forms of work.

It is impossible to ignore reality. New forms of social protection that fit new forms of work are needed. As transitions are a fact of reality, we need an approach focused on the individual, who must be able to change, train, adapt and prepare to the challenges that new jobs 4.0 bring along

Clearly, private employment agencies are called to play a key role in this context. Together with public employment agencies, they may manage portable training individual accounts, becoming the guarantors of this need to learn to unlearn in order to relearn skills based on current and future demands.

In a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, we need to combine flexicurity with predictagility: the need for predictability at work and the agility that business demand cannot go against the social protection that every worker must get, regardless of their employment status.

This requires reviewing labour costs not linked to wages and taxes linked to work or services deliver; ratifying ILO Convention 181 on private employment agencies, linking them to public employment agencies; getting more and better information on skills gap and employability; designing training opportunities based on the demand for transitions; and including different flexible and formal forms of work to address the needs of companies and people.

It is about adapting our regulatory frameworks to a 24/7 culture, with different and sophisticated business models that seek to satisfy more demanding clients and consumers, who want on customized services, 24/7, and are willing to pay for it. In certain economies, there is a larger share of workers who have jobs that are outside the standard 9 to 5 model than workers who have such traditional jobs.

The stronger organizations will be the most resilient ones, the ones that better manage the unexpected, the ones capable of experimenting with multiple hypothesis, failing and learning. Agilism is not a fashion trend, it is a way to prioritize people, their social dimension, the chance of getting better results by working together, interacting, learning, collaborating, respecting diversity. The contributions and the development of sense of purpose are not linked to a specific kind of contract, but to the chance of using skills such as commitment, dedication, and a desire to improve.

Three months ago, the World Employment Confederation, published a manifesto called “There is no future of work without social innovation”. Social innovation is the path towards the possibility of a future.  It is unacceptable that in a changing context as regards how, when and where we work, the answer that our regulatory frameworks provide involves rigidity and solutions from the 20st century for challenges from the 21st century.

Time is running out. Latin America needs to move forward quickly in social innovation policies that include solutions based on flexicurity and predictagility. It is the only way to overcome the vicious circle of informality low productivity, and exclusion. Biodiversity is a key element for sustainable development, and when it comes to individuals it includes different forms of work, different forms of development and work-life balance.

About Martin Padulla

Founder and Managing Director of staffingamericalatina. Martin Padulla is Sociologist (USAL), MBA (UCA) and labour markets expert. He published “Flexible Work in South America” and “Regulatory framework for private employment agencies in Latin America” two books about the new realities of work in Latin America. He is working on the project #FOWiberoamerica.

Follow Martín Padulla on Twitter: @MartinPadulla


 About staffingamericalatina

It is the unique independent digital media specialized in Latin American´s labour markets.

Produce and spread contents, researches and developments about issues such us Employability, Youth Employment, Training for Employment, Decent Work, Private Employment Agencies, Active policies for employment, Teleworking, Public and private actions for the creation of decent work, Green Jobs and Corporate Social Responsibility.

It is the meeting point for companies, providers, candidates, service´s companies, academics and independent professionals of Latin America.

Follow staffingamericalatina on Twitter: @staffingal