Jobs are essential for the growth of individuals and countries alike. It is not surprising that is the first concern of the world’s population. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the labor market does not function as it should: most jobs are informal (without access to social security benefits), highly unstable and unproductive. Given the new horizon in the region (the end of the economic boom coincides with the arrival of new challenges such as automation or a shared economy), countries must seek solutions to these problems.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the labor market does not function as it should: most jobs are informal, unstable and unproductive.

At the Labor Markets Division of the IDB we promote quality jobs to improve lives in Latin America and the Caribbean. Through our development projects and state-of-the-art research, we work with countries of the region to achieve an accessible labor market for all, a better prepared and more productive workforce, and pension systems that guarantee a decent life for the elderly.


In Latin America and the Caribbean there are still sectors of the population, such as young people, who have a very modest presence in the labor market. Eliminating the obstacles encountered to enter the labor market and providing favorable opportunities are pending issues for the countries of the region. In addition, the instability of jobs requires the development of mechanisms that facilitate workers’ transitions to new jobs without their being impaired.

There are still sectors of the population in the region who have a very modest presence in the labor market.

From our Access to Work area we promote initiatives that allow a better connection between people and the labor market. We support countries of the region in modernizing and strengthening their public employment services, with a dual objective: that those who seek a job can find the vacancies that best fit their profile and, at the same time, that companies can have the workforce they need. Likewise, we promote and finance programs that improve the employment opportunities of young people and other vulnerable groups.

  • We finance substantial improvements in public employment services, with a technological and innovative approach (as in the Employment Center of Peru). In addition, through the SEALC Network we provide technical assistance to labor intermediation services in the region. Download our publication: “The World of Public Employment Services.”
  • We encourage the implementation of apprenticeship programs that offer young people a better alternative for their future. Download the monograph: “Apprenticeships for the 21st Century.”
  • We create programs to improve the employment opportunities of vulnerable groups, such as youth, women, and other people at risk of social exclusion.

The current and constantly evolving labor market requires workers to continuously update their skills. It is not only relevant what is learned within the school system, but there is a need for learning systems throughout life. To boost labor productivity (which remains at a standstill in the region), it is necessary to give workers the best tools.

To boost labor productivity, it is necessary to give workers the best tools.

At the Skills area of the Labor Markets Division we work with Latin American and Caribbean countries in the creation of lifelong learning systems. With them, we want to form a better prepared workforce (with workers who are able to update and modernize their skills with ease) and thus boost the productivity of the region.

Our proposals seek to promote successful career paths for all workers. To do this, we advise on the design of lifelong learning systems that are relevant (offering those competencies demanded by the market) and quality- based, that are linked to the development strategy of each country and that involve the productive sector.

  • We support job training institutions of different countries (such as SENCE, in Chile) to reach more workers, with greater efficiency and effectiveness.
  • We develop diagnostic tools, such as surveys, that allow us to generate rigorous research and understand the problems of the labor force in the region. We identify skill gaps, and collaborate in the creation of training modules that put people closer to companies.
  • Download our series of monographs on lifelong learning.

Concern over pensions is gaining ground in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the face of a workforce where only a minority contribute to social security (more than half of the jobs in the region are informal) and a population that will grow older in the coming decades, pensions represent an emerging social problem upon which countries must act.

Pensions represent an emerging social problem upon which countries must act.

From our Pensions area we support the efforts of countries of the region to improve their pension systems. To do this, we put our knowledge and experience at the service of the reforms that are necessary to build stronger pension systems, with wide coverage (offering support to the vast majority of the population), sufficiency (ensuring the amount of the pensions allows a dignified old-age life) and sustainability (allowing for financing both now and in the future).

We put forward our proposals for improvement with a long-term vision. In addition to advising countries on redesigning pension systems, we finance projects that promote greater worker formalization and institutional improvements.

  • With the PLAC Network we connect pension institutions from 15 countries in the region, offering them a space for dialogue and learning in the face of present and future challenges.
  • The  Retirement Savings Lab allows us to look for innovative formulas to encourage the population to save for their old age.
  • Through our data platforms (such as SIMS or the Social Security Observatory), we provide the public with dozens of indicators that offer an inside look at the region’s pension systems.
  • Download our flagship publication: “Better Pensions, Better Jobs.”