lunes, 5 de agosto de 2013

Evaluating the impact SENA of on earnings and employment


Alejandro  Gaviria
Jairo Núñez


Public training institutions have played a key role in the provision of general training to workers in most Latin American countries. These institutions were created four decades ago, based on two main premises: Training was seen as (i) a key element for firm competitiveness and economic growth, and (ii) as the only alternative for young individuals who did not have access to tertiary education and did not want to enter the labor market immediately. The Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (SENA) in Colombia was one of such institutions. Yet despite its strategic role, SENA has been a source of controversy in recent years. While many analysts (and almost all politicians) highlight its importance, other analysts question its efficiency and its social impact. This paper evaluates the impact of SENA on earnings and employment in an attempt to contribute some plain facts to a debate often plagued with ideological arguments.

The stated purpose of SENA is to contribute to the technical education and skill upgrade of Colombian workers. SENA’s funds, consisting of an annual budget of about US$ 200 million, come mainly from a payroll tax levy on private employees. Of this, 75% is devoted to finance training activities. These activities are of two types: professional training of young individuals who aspire to enter the labor market (long curses) and skill upgrading for workers (short courses). Currently, 100 thousand students are enrolled in long courses and 900 thousand in short courses.

The goal of this paper is to shed light on the impact of public training programs in Colombia. To this effect, we use various data sets and put into practice various methodologies. We use data from both a living standard survey and a survey of SENA trainees to evaluate the impact of SENA courses. In addition, we use public opinion polls to evaluate the perception of managers and workers as well as that of the public at large about the role of SENA and the quality of the training provided.

Opinion polls show that managers are roughly satisfied with the quality of SENA programs and that the public at large perceives SENA as an honest, reliable institution. At the same time, however, the results show that SENA training programs do not have a discernable impact on earnings and employment. The conflict between perception and reality indicates that reforming SENA is both a policy priority and a political snag. Without a doubt, closing the gap between perception and reality is paramount to advancing reform in this area. This paper constitutes one step in that direction

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