Private employment services are the key for the future in Latin America

11, July

By Martin Padulla for staffingamericalatina Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future. This phrase ...

By Martin Padulla for staffingamericalatina

Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future. This phrase has been attributed to the Danish physicist Niels Henrik David Bohr.

Bohr, won the Nobel Prize in 1922, died in 1962 and played a key role for the future. He made fundamental contributions for the understanding of the atom and quantum mechanics. Paradoxically, I learnt about him several years ago through art: an excellent interpretation of Bohr made by the brilliant Argentinian actor Juan Carlos Gené at the General San Martin Theatre in Buenos Aires, for the sublime theatre play “Copenaghe”, written by the British playwright Michael Frayn.

The advance of science and technology has created the basis that has changed and will continue to change the world we live on.  This revolution is based on the Internet, the mobile world, the irruption of the Cloud and Big Data/Analytics.

Meanwhile, there are things that accelerate innovation, such as 3D printing, renewable energies, internet of things, cognitive systems, nanotechnology, robotics, blockchain, drones, genomics, etc.

These accelerators show us emerging scenarios and enable us to take a glimpse into future scenarios.

The emerging scenarios that can be observed are linked to aging population, climate change, the expansion of the middle class, the increase in the demand of energy, urbanization, technological unemployment and the possibility of a growing inequality, the significant change in the conception of work and the rise of independent workers, or different forms of work.

The future scenarios are linked to smart cities; the sharing economy; diverse forms of work that demand lifelong learning and a working life period different to the one we know, with different forms of engagement for people who will live longer, with health, knowledge and experience to contribute to the labour market.

We will live in a 4.0 mode; we will develop 4.0 societies with different levels of maturity and sophistication, and the qualitative growth of citizenship should lead us to demand now the basis of 4.0 democracies. Are we doing that?

Clearly, the transition is difficult. Some call it a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous), while others say it is a period of complexity, chaos, and contradictions.

For organizations, this means changing their configuration to adapt to five generations of workers with focus on purpose, with different relationships.

For educational systems, it means reinventing themselves, becoming digital and, instead of being part of a certain vital period of time, being constantly present in the lives of individuals.

How can we develop 4.0 regulatory frameworks in Latin America? How can we become key players of this change of an era, instead of victims of the technological tsunami? Can we co-create a sustainable and inclusive future?

The regulatory frameworks 4.0 will not be the result of major reforms, as these will no longer have the importance they had in the past. It will be necessary to experiment, create, correct…

Evidence shows that it is necessary to redefine labour rights.

Just as the report developed by Albert Cañigueral, called “The Digital Market Under Debate: Platforms, Workers, Rights, and Workertech  says “the goal is to combine the flexibility and freedom of independent work with the protection and benefits traditionally linked to employment. In other words, to leave behind and overcome the false dichotomy inherited from the industrial era that set a difference between highly protected traditional employment and independent work with basically no rights at all”.

As the old way of doing things fights against new emergences, interesting elements come into the light. Platforms can become social dialogue partners. This has to be the vehicle for a new social contract, the channel for social innovation.

Social dialogue generates the tripartite conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

I am convinced that the best first step to regulatory frameworks 4.0 for Latin America is the ratification of ILO Convention 181 on private employment services.

According to this convention, private employment agencies are any natural or legal person, independent of the public authorities, which provides one or more of the following labour market services:

  • (a) services for matching offers of and applications for employment, without the private employment agency becoming a party to the employment relationships which may arise therefrom;
  • (b) services consisting of employing workers with a view to making them available to a third party, who may be a natural or legal person (referred to below as a “user enterprise”) which assigns their tasks and supervises the execution of these tasks;
  • (c) other services relating to jobseeking, determined by the competent authority after consulting the most representative employers and workers organizations, such as the provision of information, that do not set out to match specific offers of and applications for employment.

The articulation with private employment services that it promotes should be the key to employability, skilling based on the demand during transitions, and the access to the formal labour market under different forms of work.

The staffing industry in Latin America faces a huge challenge: to reinvent itself, to become truly private employment services and the most efficient specialists to train workers 4.0 and manage diverse forms of formal work.

The exponential speed of these changes creates strong resistances. Traditional 20st century labour rights have been developed for working at factories, not through platforms; workers’ representativeness could be stuck in its origins. The digitalization of labour relationships demands re-thinking social protection and link it to the individual and not to the labour contract. Workers’ representativeness demands a new format. Social dialogue must be further discussed.

Latin America cannot cling to a concept of work that is suited for the 1950s. We must urgently create new spaces to debate and experiment labour relationships and social security mechanisms fit for the 21st century. An open and generous debate that it is up to the task of creating that desired sustainable and inclusive future.

“The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.” A debate that is up to this quote, also attributed to Niels Bohr.


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