In order to sustain growth and competitiveness, Latin America must improve its productivity. Skills and innovation stand out as two of the most significant variables to achieve this. In the region, there is a skills gap due to a disparity between existing skills and those that are needed in the economy. On the innovation side, Latin American firms have low innovation investment intensity compared to developed countries. The root causes of both factors are common in Latin American countries and are characterized by the region’s absence of strong framework conditions, insufficient investment, coordination failures among key players, as well as production structure-driven conditions that are the causes and the consequences of the region’s low productivity. Ten recommendations are presented as a holistic approach to tackle this productivity challenge that highlight the importance of establishing a sound economic and social foundation, enhancing both the efficiency and sufficiency of investments, and utilizing public-private collaborations and intraregional cooperation to maximize the benefits of policies and programs that rely on the support, knowledge, and resources of multiple sectors and regional entities.
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About the Author
Marisol Argueta de Barillas is a Salvadoran lawyer and career ambassador. Currently, she is the Senior Director, Head of Latin America at the World Economic Forum. She was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, General Director of Foreign Policy at the Foreign Ministry of El Salvador, Minister Counselor at the Embassy of El Salvador in Washington, DC, and Alternate Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations. She led the Ibero-American Summit 2008, the International Conference on Financing for Development for Middle Income Countries, and the commemoration of the fifteenth anniversary of the signing of the Salvadoran peace agreements, among many other international activities throughout a successful diplomatic career of more than twenty years. Her experience in the private sector includes positions as Vice President of Inter-Publix and of Newlink Group. She holds a JD from Universidad Dr. José Matías Delgado, El Salvador, and a postgraduate degree in diplomacy from the University of Oxford. She has specialized studies in international law, international affairs, immigration, leadership, management, and conflict resolution and negotiations from the International Peace Academy, Harvard University, and the Wharton School. She is the recipient of national awards from the governments of Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Spain, and the United States, as well as private recognitions from Salvadoran communities and private institutions for her social work, for the support of international trade, and for professional and academic achievements. She is a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum, a member of the Aspen Institute’s Central American Leadership Initiative and the Oxford Union Society, a cofounder of Vital Voices-El Salvador. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and served on the Boards of FUSAL, FUSATE, and Hogares CREA, El Salvador. She is married to Carlos Barillas and has three daughters: Alexia, Florence, and Gabriela.