In Latin America, approximately 30 million young people are not employed or engaged in any form of education or training . This skills gap, representing one-fifth of young people in Latin America, is the largest in the world, according to the World Economic Forum . Educators and employees share the responsibility for this gap. Incumbent education providers are not teaching the relevant skills needed to find work and employers are not effectively upskilling workers. This means holes exist along the entire learner and worker lifecycle. Students gain knowledge that isn’t relevant for the modern workforce, then they apply to jobs with limited information about the role. Employers sift through piles of CVs and conduct manual selection processes. Then they provide managers limited resources to train and retain employees.
How startups can help
Now, startups across Latin America are building solutions to solve these problems and fill the labor and training gaps. Startups help young people learn new skills, find jobs, and stay engaged while on the job. Technology plays a role in optimizing key processes in order to put the right people in the right jobs so they can have successful careers. At AVP Ventures, we invest behind the founders that are building the future of work in Latin America. Across our portfolio we have invested behind 8 companies that offer technology to help employers be better at hiring, upskilling, engaging workers. They also offer tools to help build community, promote wellbeing, and maintain safety among workers. Ultimately, this leads to better performance for workers and companies.
Startups can help job applicants find jobs. They leverage technology to provide support through interview preparation, community and a broad range of job opportunities. Job seekers are empowered with more information and the necessary tools to get the job they want. Hunty’s founders, Sebastian, Valentina, Francisco and Santiago, understand the challenging journey of young job seekers in Latin America. They built technology to streamline and enrich the job search process for applicants. The Hunty team dedicates time and resources to job seekers through the recruitment process, by connecting them with both career coaches and potential employers.
Many startups provide educational experiences that help workers gain relevant skills. This type of on-the-job training keeps employees engaged and motivated. The upskilling improves performance, while that same time giving them a boost to their careers Slang’s founders, Diego Villegas and Kamran Khan, detected a global unmet need for industry-specific English language learning. Their company offers a simple and comprehensive way to learn industry-specific, English vocabulary. Slang leverages machine learning to create fluid, comprehensive, and agglomerative coursework that highlights relevant terminology for specific verticals, industries, and job positions. Diego and Kamran are using technology to redefine language learning in the workforce.
Startups also help employers. Web-based startup platforms allow employers to search through lists of qualified applicants efficiently. Other software solutions manage the application process or use machine learning to offer predictive assessments of ability and performance. Get on Board’s founders, Sergio Nouvel and Jorge Rodriguez, identified a huge mismatch between the number of quality tech professionals in Latin America and the companies that need them. They built an intuitive software designed with the tech professional in mind. Get on Board is now the biggest recruitment platform for the IT industry in Latin-America, with 700,000+ job applications sent. It offers modern tools for recruiters and a simple, curated experience for tech talent looking for a job. Get on Board is now the destination of choice for companies seeking to hire the best tech talent in Latin America. Once employers find potential employees, they often need to screen them. Technology can help employers conduct thorough background checks on job candidates. Running these checks in a fast and efficient way is especially important in the gig-economy that connects workers directly to end users. Emptor’s founders, Gabriel and Oriana, recognized a market opportunity to serve large clients in the on-demand economy that needed to rapidly hire workers across multiple countries. Emptor provides identity services for companies and sharing economy platforms across Latin America through a software that makes it easy to identify and select potential candidates. Emptor offers an automated, low-cost, efficient security service for companies to identify, select and onboard contractors at a regional level. Emptor’s impact goes beyond background checks. The service strengthens trust between workers and employers.
Once workers are hired, startups help employers to better conduct employee surveys, manage performance evaluations, pay workers, and measure employee engagement. The founders of Slik, Javier, Tomas and Ezequiel, are building a digital solution to a problem they had experienced as former human resource executives. Slik offers a SaaS solution that helps clients measure and manage employee engagement and build action plans for boosting employee productivity. Slik platform is built for a wide variety of clients, including startups, small businesses and large corporations. The adaptable software solution is currently supporting clients across Latin America and in Europe. Slik and its clients are demonstrating that happy workplaces lead to high performing companies.
Startups in our portfolio and others across Latin America are crucial to filling the skills and employment gaps along the learner and employee lifecycle. Their founders are building solutions that finding the right balance between implementing people management technology and maintaining a human touch between employers and workers. At AVP Ventures, we have no doubt that current and future startup founders will take on this challenge and be the drivers of impact, not just in the startups world but in millions of lives through education and work.
 How startups are helping close Latin America’s skills gap. IDG Connect, 2019.
 Latin America has the biggest skills gap in the world. Here’s how to bridge it. World Economic Forum, 2018.