International meeting: vocational training and labour certification in the care sector

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On Tuesday, August 29, the international seminar "Work and Care: the role of training and certification of labor competencies in the construction of care systems" took place, which brought together specialists from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama, Dominican Republic and Uruguay.

The event was organized by ILO/Cinterfor, thanks to the support of the ILO Regional Office and the ILO's Emerging Partnership Cooperation Unit, and was part of the activities framed in the roadmap towards the National Care Forum in Uruguay. The seminar also represented a milestone in the regional process developed by ILO and Cinterfor entitled: "Training and certification services for care: the growing role of Vocational Training Institutions in Latin America".

At the opening of the event, Claudia Coenjaerts, Regional Director a.i. of the ILO Office for Latin America and the Caribbean said: "The demand for care could create up to 299 million formal jobs worldwide by 2035. While this figure offers promising opportunities, we cannot forget the challenges we face in Latin America. Despite the growing need for trained personnel in this field, the professionalization of the sector has not received the attention it deserves from most countries," emphasizing the need for care policies with attention to training and certification.

Subsequently, Andrea Villavicencio, an expert from the ILO Partnership Unit, reflected on the importance of South-South and triangular cooperation for progress in this area, which allows the sharing of good practices among countries with similar levels of development and experiences.

In her turn, Anne Caroline Posthuma, director of ILO/Cinterfor, emphasized the importance of the link between work, training, quality and care, which are already "a source of employment, what we need is for it to be a source of decent employment," she concluded.

Care in the region

In the first panel, Lais Abramo, National Secretary for Care and Family of Brazil, reviewed care in the public policy agenda in that country, stating first of all that "the burden of unpaid domestic and care work is a powerful obstacle for women to enter the labor market and overcome poverty and hunger" and how the current national care policy in her country proposes the role of the state and the necessary transformation of the current social organization of care to provide public and political responses to this issue.

Later, Alma Espino, from the Interdisciplinary Center for Development Studies. Uruguay (Ciedur), spoke about the care system and the commitment to equality, welfare and development based on it, emphasizing that unpaid work is a contribution to the household economy and is a contribution of households to the country's economy.

Finally, Larraitz Lexartza, Gender Officer of the ILO office for Central America, Panama, Dominican Republic and Haiti referred to the challenges of professionalization of care work based on the 5 recommendations for decent care work and the need for a common agenda aimed at investing in transformative and national care policy packages.

The second part of the seminar consisted of a roundtable discussion on the role of training and certification of labor competencies in the construction of integrated care systems.

Achievements and challenges

Viviana Piñeiro, ILO/Cinterfor consultant and head of the technical secretariat of Uruguay's National Care Forum, contextualized the topics to be discussed at the roundtable, among other issues, addressing the care system as "a set of policies aimed at implementing a new social organization of care with the aim of caring for, assisting and supporting people who require it, as well as recognizing, reducing and redistributing the care work that today is mostly done by women".

At the round table, Florencia Krall, Director of Care of the Ministry of Social Development, Ximena Rivillo, Executive Secretary of ChileValora, Ramona Mejía, Director and Certification Validator of Infotep of the Dominican Republic, Ruth Suárez, of SENA of Colombia, Patricia Cossani, of the Pro Care Network of Uruguay and Camen Gambera of the Care Commission of the PIT-CNT discussed the progress and challenges for training and certification of competencies in the countries of the region.

Virginia Varela, from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and Paz Arancibia, ILO regional gender and non-discrimination specialist for the Americas, were in charge of the closing session.

Varela reflected on the ambitious agenda that encompasses the issue of care, understanding that there is a desire to change the social contract: "The effort will take a long time and has to place the state at the center, we have to work so that the states are active and proactive," she said. For her part, Arancibia emphasized the regional trends in professional training and certification of care: "they are varied and there is no approach to the subject based on theoretical guidelines, but rather practical guidelines, and far from being a handicap, I believe it is a richness that we must know how to take advantage of".

This event was the first of the activities of a regional workshop "Training and certification for care in Latin America and the Caribbean" that took place until Thursday, August 31, where the regional team of representatives of professional training institutions and certification of labor competencies continued to deepen the topic, sharing progress, challenges and outlining a guideline for joint work in the coming years.

The United Nations System in Uruguay, represented by its agencies, together with the Pro-Care Network, is promoting a technical-political process to strengthen and support the care agenda and revitalize a broad coalition in support of the National Integrated Care System (SNIC). During this semester and at the beginning of 2024, a series of meetings will be organized in different formats, such as seminars, technical roundtables and discussions with different stakeholders, which will feed into next year's National Care Forum.