Let's Try Dual Education to Combat Youth Unemployment

In Central America, the youth unemployment rate is estimated at over 24%, while in Germany, where the dual education is practiced, youth unemployment is 6%.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


A visit to Costa Rica by the German Education Minister has put back on the table the concept of dual education, an education method where time is shared between the traditional classroom and work as an apprentice in a trade or professional specialty, in a company.

The youth unemployment figures (15 to 24) in Costa Rica are alarming, especially because they are increasing. The picture is no better - and probably worse - in other Central American countries. The most catastrophic figure is the so-called "ni-ni" [English translation: neither-nor] because they neither study nor work. In Costa Rica that number is 20% and it is not the worst in the region.

It should be noted that the effect of unemployment on young people is worse than on adults, firstly because it prevents a generation from forming work habits, which will hinder their performance when they do get hired, and also because free time leaves space for contact with criminal activities, with the young unemployed being the main target of recruiting by criminal organizations.

Among the main benefits of dual education is the very satisfaction generated by the sense of belonging to an organization, which is something the traditional classroom generally does not provide, and personal self-achievement that comes from completing tasks in a workplace. Another substantial benefit is that it bridges the gap between knowledge -always lagging behind - in the traditional classroom and the training required for actual production. The latter point, the correlation between what is learned in the classroom and the skills required in the labor market, is something business associations are constantly asking of governments, because more and more often there is a shortage of people in the labor market with the qualifications demanded by a economy with a capacity to develop and compete in the modern world.
See "Learning on the job: Dual Education"

Of course, dual education has its detractors. Some of them wield honest arguments, like those who point out it can lead to labor abuse. Others, such as trade unionists in the field of education, object to it merely to protect their own interests, trying to maintain the status quo.
See "Education: Trade Unions Cling to Status Quo"

More on this topic

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The Wrong Recipe Against Unemployment

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In Costa Rica a law iniatiative pretends to force companies to have 25% of their workforce composed by young people aged between 17 and 24 years old.


The problem of unemployment that affects thousands of young people in Costa Rica and the Central American countries will not be solved simply by forcing private companies to hire a certain proportion of young employees, regardless of their qualifications and skills, or even worse, without considering whether there is an actual need for hiring or not.

State will Pay Companies Hiring from Vulnerable Populations

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The government of Costa Rica will pay $2,700 per person to enterprises hiring in vulnerable sectors and whose staff remain in their posts for at least 12 months.

From a statement issued by the Presidency of Costa Rica:

Promoting job creation in two ways: an economic benefit to businesses that hire people and training in dual education.

Education: Unions Cling to Status Quo

June 2015

Despite its development in advanced countries, including the more established social democracies, dual education is fundamentally opposed by those who will always be threatened by any changes.


As with education unions throughout Latin America, where there is an imperative need for radical changes in education systems which are increasingly lagging behind the rest of the world, in Costa Rica the corporation of education workers is radically opposed to any changes, even those that have proven successful in countries with political systems focused on social welfare such as the European social democracies, as is dual education.

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