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According to a study conducted by the Argentine Integrated Provisional System (SIPA) — a government body that works under the Ministry of Labor — 52,516 jobs were eliminated from the private sector between December 2015 and May of this year. Construction workers were hit the hardest, counting some 31,063 losses, or almost 60  percent of the total. In contrast, the sectors that actually saw an increase in their formal workforce include education (4,893 new jobs), social services and health (4,117), retail (3,922) and finance (1,903).

The study reported that May marked the seventh consecutive month in which formal private employment decreased and, if we are to compare the situation with May of last year, there are 64,694 less jobs. It’s important to clarify the report didn’t cover informal, unregistered work (trabajo en negro), which is thought to represent a third of Argentina’s economy. It didn’t do it because well, it’s impossible to do so.

The future doesn’t look much more promising either: a few days ago, both the Labor Ministry and Manpower, a labor consultancy, released reports informing that eight out of every 10 companies are not planning on either hiring or firing employees during the next few months. However, even though the job market keeps on shrinking, a study conducted by the National Institute of Education Technology (INET) consulting firm concluded that companies that do want to hire are having trouble finding qualified candidates.

The study — conducted among 879 companies —  reported that 69 percent of the companies surveyed tried to hire qualified personnel. However, 51 percent out of that total had difficulties covering the position because most candidates didn’t meet the requirements: “Metal, mechanic and textile industries, software and telecommunications; health, energy and mining are the sectors that have the largest issues at the time of incorporating technical staff,” the report concludes.

According to the study, this is partly due to the fact that high school graduates “don’t have experience in the workforce and don’t get enough practice at school.” “77 percent of companies that tried to hire assured that the lack of qualified workers had a negative effect. Their productivity was lower, they had higher production costs, didn’t meet quality standards and had to increase the existing qualified employees’ workload,” the report says.

Another study conducted by Adecco consulting informed that, out of the 466 companies surveyed, 70 percent had the same type of trouble. Furthermore, its research concluded that what companies value the most at the time of hiring is the following:

  • Experience. 52 percent labeled it as important.
  • University or post-high school degree (deemed important by 29 percent of the companies).
  • Ability to speak a foreign language (7 percent).