Structural labor market challenges in the aged care industry in Spain and the scarcity of professionalization in this sector in Colombia can be seen as two sides of the same coin. They represent a unique opportunity to create a mutually beneficial labor mobility program between these two nations, inspired by the Global Skills Partnership (GSP) model. Such a program would address both the shortage of workers and skills in the industry in Spain and Colombia, and ultimately benefit elderly populations in both countries.
As part of the scoping work in Ibero-America, the LaMP team undertook several trips to Colombia and Spain to discover the needs of the aged care industry, engage with new stakeholders and identify key factors to design a labor mobility program.
During these visits, we established an extensive network of key stakeholders, including governments, training organizations, business associations, and employers. In Spain, we held working meetings with the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security, and Migration to discuss priorities, brainstorm program possibilities, and identify potential constraints. In Colombia, we confirmed that professionalization and regulation of the aged care sector is one of the key policy priorities. In meetings with different public institutions, we learned about the key legislation, such as the National Development Plan 2022-2026 and Public Policy for Elderly People 2022-2031, that highlight this topic as a national priority. We also attended the Latin American Congress on Gerontology and Geriatrics in Medellin, where we gained insights into the region’s main trends in aged care and connected with practitioners, employers, and experts.
Qualified workers are central to providing quality care in the aged care industry. While the level of maturity of the industry varies in each country, they both face similar challenges in delivering quality care to older populations. Spain has a large offering of specialized training but lacks a sufficient number of workers and a clear career path for aged care professionals. On the other hand, Colombia has an abundance of caregivers with empirical knowledge but offers few tailored courses in aged care. A labor mobility program that combines entry-level training in Colombia with potential career advancement opportunities in Spain could generate significant human capital gains for both countries, increasing quality when delivering this service to older populations in both countries.
Shared language and available legal pathways in Spain are key advantages for such program. However, there are complexities to navigate. Occupational and legal requirements differ between the two countries, requiring a skills validation process, which can be lengthy and bureaucratic. Additionally, extensive coordination with multiple local partners and alignment with local legislation will have to be an essential part of the program due to the industry’s significance in different geographical zones of Colombia and Spain. Despite these potential complications, the LaMP team has received significant interest from both countries’ stakeholders, which bodes well for the program’s success. For instance, we were invited to speak at a local event in Colombia to discuss labor mobility with employers in the aged care industry.
Building on our learnings so far, the LaMP team is currently working to identify technical aspects, potential partners, costs and roles for a pilot to be implemented over the next year.
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