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Latin America: lands of promise for Australian skills training

The dynamic region of Latin America is emerging as a high-potential market offering exciting opportunities for borderless education.

Latin America is Australia’s second-largest source region for international students after Asia, accounting for over 10 per cent of international student commencements in Australia in 2018.

While economic growth has powered several Latin American countries to become key suppliers of students to Australia, most Australian providers have not yet fully explored the opportunities for industry-aligned skills training in the region across vocational and higher education.

With this in mind, Austrade developed the Industry Skills Training Opportunities in Latin America report to help Australian education and training providers better understand the commercial landscape and potential opportunities.

The report explores skills challenges in the region and the willingness of the corporate sector to pay external providers, including Australian institutions, to deliver training solutions. It focuses on niche areas in key markets in Latin America in order to support the international growth diversification strategies of Australian education providers.

“Companies throughout Latin America are experiencing skills gaps and talent shortages across a range of industries, primarily due to rapid industry growth and inadequate industry-aligned education and training,” says Natasha Monks, Austrade’s Trade Commissioner based in Lima and Education Lead across the Americas.

“With the exception of specific areas such as mining in Chile, vocational education and training typically lacks cohesion and formal quality insurance. Instructors often have little industry experience and students receive minimal practical industry experience prior to graduation.”

Austrade commissioned research in Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Peru to inform the report. Owners of ten large companies in each market were asked about current skills shortages in their company, the importance of training to them and their business, resources currently allocated to training, their expected return on investment in training, the type of training they prefer and their willingness to use international providers.

The report identified a large skills gap, with 50 per cent of companies surveyed unable to find suitable candidates, compared to 36 per cent among OECD members. The gap was most significant in Brazil, Mexico and Peru.

“The many geographic and demographic diversity issues in Latin America mean every country has different needs when it comes to skills development,” Ms Monks says. Austrade LATAM is continuing to work with large corporates across Latin America on models for Australia to partner and engage.

The Austrade team is well placed to support education providers navigate markets in Latin America and work with companies to define the best pathways for strategic commercial engagement.

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Report on LATAM industry skills training opportunities released

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