Ana María Lara Salinas, expert in Finance and International Relations, Master in international cooperation and management of public policies, programmes and development projects and expert in the promotion and development of local economies. Adviser to the Office of Cooperation and International Relations, Colombian Ministry of Labour, expert in international labour migration.

One of the major problems of the Latin American labour system is the informal nature of many jobs and the low proportion of the elderly who receive a retirement pension. How does RIAL contribute to a greater control of these aspects?

Overall, RIAL seeks to strengthen institutions and enhance their capacity to formulate policies and programmes that make it possible to meet the most pressing needs of each of the countries in the region. The aspects we are working on within the fields of employment and jobs seek to respond to challenges such as informal labour. As soon as experiences are shared, the technical departments can assess what measures can be implemented and how they can be implemented. This strengthens the capability of civil servants and provides the necessary steps to implement systems that have proven successful.

Various agencies have warned about the increase in youth unemployment in Latin America and, particularly in the case of young women. What challenges have RIAL identified regarding the access of young Latin Americans to the labour market?

RIAL, as the executive body, prioritises the dissemination of the issues that have been included in the declarations of the Inter-American Conference of Labour Ministers, and in the Action Plan.

On the issue of youth employment, we can rescue article 22 of the Medellin Declaration at the XVIII CIMT, of which Colombia has held the presidency until this year, when Mexico will take over. The articles states that “we shall promote active policies to enable the access of young people to the labour market, respecting their labour rights. This includes considering the transition from school to work and the struggle against precarious and informal employment. We shall encourage the creation of educational and vocational platforms with a view to preparing and applying national policies and strategies that favour the generation of decent and productive jobs for young people”.

Additionally, the Work Plan establishes in paragraph 5 that Working Group 1 will monitor the Medellin Declaration regarding issues related to the creation, promotion and maintenance of decent and productive employment; seeking its consolidation as a key objective of economic and social policies and being a means to achieve social justice. Within this context, Working Group 1 will deal with the following issues:


  • Identify mechanisms and best practices regarding the generation of public policies aimed at promoting decent and productive jobs, as well as social inclusion.
  • The role played by the Ministries of Labour in relation to economic policies, decent jobs, productive employment and social inclusion
  • Labour and employment policies to defend the groups who find the greatest challenges in the labour market, such as native Americans and Afro-Americans, among others.
  • Vocational education and training to improve employability.
  • Labour market information systems
  • Public employment services
  • Labour mobility and approval of labour skills between countries
  • Strategies for dealing with informal labour and non-registered jobs
  • Support for the development of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
  • Policies and programme to address precarious employment
  • Construction of subsidised flats
  • Policies and programmes related to youth employment and the transition from school to work
  • Mainstreaming gender equality and non-discrimination in employment and labour policies, and in the operation of the Ministries of Labour

This will not only lead to the prioritisation of bilateral cooperation to address these issues, but the meetings of the Working Group will make it possible to foster a sense of social responsibility regarding what countries are doing and together with recommendations from international bodies so that the technical departments at the Ministries will be able to respond to challenges such as youth unemployment.

How does RIAL participate in preparing joint active employment policies among the countries that comprise this agency? What progress has the creation of an agency such as RIAL brought to the region?

RIAL, through its various activities, provides technical input while sharing knowledge and information. Later, based on the internal conditions, each nation can draft and implement policies.

How can the participation of the private sector in cooperation programmes be enhanced?

I do not think that it is advisable to increase private participation in cases such as RIAL. The cooperation mechanism between countries strengthens the links between them and leads to greater dialogue between governments.

What successful strategies and experiences in the field of employment in Colombia could be applied in other countries?

Colombia has had very interesting experiences in the following aspects regarding employment:


  • National Learning Service, SENA: Dependent on the Ministry of Labour of Colombia, it offers free training to millions of Colombians, who benefit from technical, technological and additional programmes that focus on the economic, technological and social development of the country and become part of the production activities of companies and industry, seeking greater competitiveness and production in globalised markets.
  • Special Administrative Unit of the Public Employment Service: Created to administer the Public Employment Service and the Public Employment Service Provision Network to promote job management and placement.
  • Teleworking: particularly useful for housewives and other groups.
  • COLabora (COLaborate): a National programme for Citizens provided by the Ministry of Labour that ensure more and better tools to guide, inform and respond to the concerns of any citizen, whether worker or employer, and thus provide up-to-date information on the labour obligations and rights of all workers, whether domestic or foreign.