“Buen Trabajo” – Good Job: Improving Job Skills and Job Opportunities for Area Young People

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One sure way to achieve success is ensure that cooperation, coordination and common goals are part of any solution. For The Dow Chemical Company and other businesses in Bahia Blanca and Ingeniero White, Argentina, the extensive involvement of community, government, education and business was vital to the success of “Buen Trabajo” (Good Job as it’s called in English), a job training program started in 2007.

The Good Job training program is the creative and effective solution developed to meet a basic community problem: Matching qualified employees to available jobs. With high unemployment rates in Ingeniero White, especially among young people, jobs are a key to improving people’s lives, the local economy and the strength of the community.

The solution was obvious to area businesses and the community: better prepare young people through training for available jobs. However, creating a real world solution was more involved and required participation from many community stakeholders.

Needs Assessment Needed

The first step was to identify the need for skilled workers in the area’s petrochemical, oil, industrial, cereal and service labor markets. Based on surveys given to 34 Dow supplier companies, the major findings were:

  • Growing Job Opportunities. Suppliers’ workforces had been growing in recent years and expected to continue to grow.
  • Lack of Skilled Labor. Available young people do not have the technical and job skills needed by area employers.
  • Little Employment Connection. Few area companies had Human Resources departments, making it difficult to find and connect to qualified local employees.

The data gathered from the survey were invaluable. Not only did the survey better define the labor market in the Bahia Blanca and Ingeniero White communities, it also identified the jobs skills needed by area businesses. Skills in welding, scaffolding, painting, pipe fitting, auto CAD and technical design were defined.

Beyond the need for job training, Dow’s Community Advisory Panel (CAP) determined it was also important to strengthen young people’s attitudes and improve their access to the local job market. So Dow and CAP invited a group of local and national key stakeholders to partner in the design and development of a comprehensive training program.

Cooperation and Coordination

The strong vision and goals of Buen Trabajo brought together the community – in every sense. Each stakeholder contributed a unique, yet essential, component to the design, development and implementation of the job training program:

Industry and Employment

  • Dow, Project Lead. As leader, Dow contacted its suppliers and other local companies and institutions to obtain commitment and engagement in the program. In addition, Dow provided funding and determined allocation. The company developed internal and external communications strategies, as well as helped create indicators to measure results. Dow also introduced the proposal to Argentina’s National Ministry of Labor in order to gain support as well as funding. Finally, many Dow employees are program instructors.
  • Supplier Companies. Thirty-four companies, members of the Bahia Blanca Industrial Park, provided input on training course content, materials and technicians.
  • Manpower. As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program and corporate volunteering, the temporary staffing company provided youth search process, contents of attitude development and training and tools for job searches. In addition, it built a database of candidates for employers.

Community and Government

  • Dow CAP. Panel members analyzed the proposal and evaluated its ability to help improve youth labor conditions and opportunities. They also communicated proposal specifics to obtain commitment from other organizations.
  • Ingeniero White Community. Public organizations, local government representation, etc. cooperated extensively, helping to communicate the proposal and its results to the community.
  • Bahia Blanca Local Government. Shared information about potential job candidates from the training program to other companies in the region.
  • Argentina National Ministry of Labor (Minisierio de Trabajo des la Nación). Provided technology, technical assistance and resources to expand the scale of the proposal and improve the process.

Education

  • Universidad Tecnológica Nacional (Bahia Blanca Regional Faculty) – Thetop-tier Argentinean university developed the content and curriculum of the training program and located teachers.

Training and Graduates Are Working

Since its start in 2007, Buen Trabajo has grown and evolved to meet the needs of its students and area employers. The program’s training courses are certified by the National Technology University, Bahia Blanca Regional Facility, and continue to be free of charge. A training facility was constructed to house classrooms and equipment for students.

As the program continues, the University certifies training and assesses results. To date 600 students have graduated from the program, a 90 percent graduation rate. This program really is cause for celebration!

[Editor's note: This article is part of The Role of Business in Emerging Markets.]

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