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Latin America and Caribbean will need 23 million health, education professionals by 2040: study

By CMC

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IDB headquarters in Washington.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, CMC – A new study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) says Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) will need about 12 million teachers, 3 million doctors and 8 million nurses by the year 2040.

This is what “Education and Health: The sectors of the future?”, the second issue of IDB’s “The future of work in Latin America and the Caribbean” series says in its projection of the demand for social sector professionals in 24 countries in the region.

“Our study shows that, even in the framework of the fourth industrial revolution, we can expect the number of teachers, doctors and nurses in Latin America and the Caribbean to continue growing at great speed,” said Marcelo Cabrol, manager of the IDB Social Sector. “Our methodology allows us to know that, for example, a third of the teachers that will be needed in 15 years, and almost two thirds of the doctors and nurses, are people who have not yet begun their working life.

“Faced with this reality, the key is to ensure that these new professionals have the skills and training they need to be the teachers, doctors and nurses of the future,” he added.

The IDB said the study’s projections are based on a series of variables specific to these sectors.

In the case of education, it said the school-age population, school enrollment rates and the number of children per teacher are considered.

For the health sector, the number of doctors is estimated with respect to the aging population that will exist in the coming decades, as well as the proportion of nurses for each doctor, the IDB said.

In addition to presenting projections for the future, the study analyzes the evolution of the employment of teachers, doctors and nurses in LAC over the last four decades, according to the IDB.

“These three occupations have been growing significantly in the region, but the most remarkable thing is that the jobs in education and health are, in comparison with other sectors, of good quality,” Cabrol said.

“Thus, the publication not only shows evidence that the income of teachers, doctors and nurses in Latin America and the Caribbean has grown significantly in recent years but also that these professionals are more likely to receive a pension in old age than other professionals such as engineers, lawyers, journalists or accountants,” he added.

In addition, Cabrol said, with women representing the majority of social sector workers, the gender wage gap is substantially lower in these occupations than in others.

“While, in our region, women with post-secondary education still earn on average 28 percent less than men, in education and health, this difference is around 10 percent,” Cabrol said.

With the study, the IDB said it seeks to “enrich the discussion on how the region can take advantage of opportunities and minimize risks that arise from this issue, using an interactive format that incorporates audio, video and other resources.”

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