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Going Digital: Latin America’s Digital Workforce
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As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted everyday activities in Latin America, it accelerated a shift toward digitization across diverse sectors. The impressive adoption of digital technologies in the workforce, commerce, education and health care may well have permanently changed public behavior, from online purchasing to telemedicine, in a region that had long lagged behind in its adoption of digital technologies. Amid the pandemic’s economic ruin, this transformation offers promising opportunities for post-pandemic recovery.
The question now is how Latin American governments build upon these changes and create incentives for further digitization, encourage private investment, maintain and expand a skilled digital workforce, protect online privacy, and improve cybersecurity in ways that speed the region’s economic recovery and diversification.
Taking advantage of digitization will not be straightforward, frictionless or cheap. High levels of informality in Latin America’s labor force represent another obstacle; on average, only 20 percent of jobs can be done remotely, compared to 41 percent in the United States. Though regional internet access has doubled since 2010, Latin America has not overcome its digital divide; a third of Latin Americans still lack regular internet access. The situation is worse in rural areas, where millions of low-income students have struggled to study remotely during the long months of lockdown. To promote further digitization and seize on economic opportunities, Latin American governments will need to partner with the private sector to improve online privacy and cybersecurity; dramatically expand online commerce; and build a workforce suited for the digital economy.
To explore strategies that Latin American governments could adopt to deepen the process of digital transformation, please join us for a five-part seminar series hosted by the Wilson Center’s Latin American Program. Speakers in this series, co-sponsored by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), will include senior public officials from across the region and executives from leading global and Latin American technology companies. The seminars will address technology workforce challenges and opportunities, financial technology, digital trade, education technology, and privacy and cybersecurity.
Latin American Program
The Wilson Center’s prestigious Latin American Program provides non-partisan expertise to a broad community of decision makers in the United States and Latin America on critical policy issues facing the Hemisphere. The Program provides insightful and actionable research for policymakers, private sector leaders, journalists, and public intellectuals in the United States and Latin America. To bridge the gap between scholarship and policy action, it fosters new inquiry, sponsors high-level public and private meetings among multiple stakeholders, and explores policy options to improve outcomes for citizens throughout the Americas. Drawing on the Wilson Center’s strength as the nation’s key non-partisan forum, the Program serves as a trusted source of analysis and a vital point of contact between the worlds of scholarship and action. Read more
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