IDB study outlines challenges for Bahamas

WASHINGTON, CMC – A study conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has found that the Bahamas would need to develop the work environment so as to ensure a significant number of educators and health care workers are employed by 2040.

In the second issue of its series titled “The future of work in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the Washington-based financial institution said the Bahamas  would need an estimated 6,000 teachers, 3,000 doctors and 7,000 nurses by the year 2040.

Increase in demand for teachers, doctors, nurses

In the “Education and Health: The sectors of the future?,” the IDB looked at 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, IDB’s Social Sector manager.

“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,” said Cabrol.

The study’s projections are based on a series of variables specific to these sectors. In the case of education, 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.

In addition to presenting projections for the future, the study analyses the evolution of the employment of teachers, doctors and nurses in Latin America and the Caribbean over the last four decades.

“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,” said Cabrol. 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.

In addition, women represent the majority of social sector workers, and 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% less than men, in education and health this difference is around 10 per cent,” says Cabrol.

The IDB said that the series on the “Future of Work in Latin America and the Caribbean” is 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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