The Critical Need for Skilled Labor in Panama

The new Metro Project in Panama was a good example of how the country had to import skilled foreign labor to meet the demand.

The new Metro Project in Panama was a good example of how the country had to import skilled foreign labor to meet the demand.

In a recent article in Martes Financiero, the author cites a report regarding the important social and regional inequalities in Panama that have created a critical lack of qualified labor to fill the country’s need for trained personnel in many fields.

It emphasizes that Panama should improve its educational system to provide the local market with skilled labor in the country currently lacking work, solve the “important” social and regional inequalities, and look to implement the benefits of the “Special Economic Zones” SEZs – a move which would begin to reverse these inequalities in the economy. This is the conclusion that the second Trade Policy Review of Panama by economists of the World Trade Organization (WTO) came to.

The report highlights the “rapid economic growth” in the years analyzed (2007-2013), as the country grew at an average annual rate of 8%, “one of the highest in Latin America.”

WTO economists point out that this growth contributed to a sharp increase in nominal GDP per capita (U.S. $ 11,075 in 2013) and a reduction in Poverty Rates in the country.

“This rapid growth was due largely to the expansion of private consumption and public and private investment, particularly directed to large infrastructure projects.” The text also considers the incentive schemes to attract investment results have seen results “judging by the large influx of FDI (foreign direct investment) in recent years.”

However, the report notes that these achievements “were not enough”, since even “major social and regional inequalities” persist.

Where and how far these inequalities persist will be the subject of our next post which will paint a more sober picture of panama’s “real” economic growth and how far ranging it really is.

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