Training in Central America using technology from Chemnitz

In countries such as Costa Rica and El Salvador, well-thought out business initiatives by the private sector are helping young people to identify career prospects in their own country.

Many young people in Central America are unemployed. They have very few prospects of finding an apprenticeship in a company in their home country. At the same time, many local companies cannot find the skilled workers they need.

An initiative by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) illustrates how the training sector and private sector companies can cooperate effectively – and create apprenticeships and jobs. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has implemented the project on behalf of BMZ to improve competitiveness in small and medium-sized enterprises. A total of 2,380 new jobs and 23 apprenticeships have been created in the IT, energy and tourism sectors. One of the success factors was targeted cooperation between public and private sector institutions and knowledge exchange with regional partners.

The project concluded in 2018 and initiated a public-private partnership between German SMEs and local training providers. The partnership was part of BMZ’s develoPPP.de programme, which promotes commercial initiatives with development policy benefit. A consortium of three tech companies from the German city of Chemnitz set up centres for industrial design in Costa Rica and El Salvador. SITEC, CADsys and the Chemnitz Institute for Innovative Technologies contributed hardware and expertise in the area of digital manufacturing.

Local training courses were organised by the non-profit training organisation Don Bosco. This joint project between German tech companies and local training providers ran between 2015 and 2017. 506 people took part in courses in ‘rapid prototyping’, a process that involves designing new products on a computer and using 3D printing to produce initial samples of items ranging from drinks bottles to aerospace components. This saves considerable time and expenditure in product development – and represents a step towards digital structural change in Central America. The young students and apprentices in Costa Rica and El Salvador now have good job prospects: 50 young people have found employment, and 10 have set up their own company. Meanwhile, the companies from Chemnitz have gained contacts in a new market and identified potential new customers.

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