Is Chile’s Labor Ministry on the right path to diminishing unemployment?
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Is Chile’s Labor Ministry on the right path to diminishing unemployment?

The efforts of Chile’s Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare is paying off bit by bit, as the country’s unemployment rate dipped during this year’s third quarter.

The country’s statistics institute revealed on Monday that unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent from last quarter’s 6.4 percent.  Government data showed that Chile’s unemployment rate remains in a seesaw state, prompting the ministry to push programs that will give women, young people, and the disabled access to jobs.

“Unemployment has been fairly resilient.  There is no rise predicted (in the unemployment rate) for this year. The economy continues to create jobs,” said Labor Undersecretary Francisco Diaz.

He added that more than 146,000 jobs were created in this year’s third quarter. According to the report, the positive decrease was mainly influenced by women as the unemployment rate of women went down from 6.9 percent to 6.5 percent.

The construction industry contributed the most with a 7.8 percent increase in employment, while the transport and communications industry trailed behind wth 7.4 percent. The education industry also helped with its 6.5 percent increase.

“Our challenge as a government is to have good resources and put them where the country or the productive sector demands. It’s something that if executed, can make a difference,” said Ximena Rincón, Labor and Social Welfare secretary.

+ Capable

“It’s positive news, but that does not take away the desire to continue working to increase employment and quality that is generated,” Diaz stated.

One of the most active programs of the Labor Ministry is + Capable (+ Capaz), an initiative that aims to support those with high labor vulnerability which include women, young people, and people with disabilities. It offers free training courses that should equip the participants the skills they need not only to enhance their chances of employment but also to remain in the labor market. The program also helps find job placements.

“Another area is aimed at the reduction of the gender wage gap, which occurs throughout the range of occupations and in all skill levels of the workers. Evidence shows that there are transversal, such as the culture that defines the division of labor by sex, behind this situation of inequality in the employability of women compared to men factors,” the Labor Ministry wrote on its website.

+ Capable intends to train 300,000 women and 150,000 young people within a four-year period that started in 2014 and will end in 2018. Women aged between 18 to 64 years old are eligible to apply as long as they are a part of the 60 percent of the most vulnerable of the population.

“We are convinced that if women achieve greater financial autonomy, they can improve their quality of life, their children, and their family. We want to advance greater participation of women in the labor market. We want them to have increased and better opportunities to undertake,” Rincón said.

Meanwhile, men and women with disabilities aged 18 to 40 years old can also apply for the courses. Figures show that 12.9 percent of Chileans, translating to 1 in 8 people, are disabled. Only 25 percent of the disabled youth from 15 to 29 has a paid job. But the most concerning numbers are in the households: 43.9 percent of people with disabilities are heads of their homes, and 66.2 percent of them are unskilled workers.

“This program is a necessary tool to show that nobody is beyond the reach of development and social integration,” Rincón said.

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