Ilo’s Sub-regional Programme for Developing Integrated Training and Labour Intermediation Systems

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ILO’s Sub-regional Programme for Developing Integrated Training and Labour Intermediation Systems (FOIL)

FIRST PHASE (2006-2010) Supported by the Spanish-SICA Fund and delivered by CECC/SICA

Reference framework-

  • Tripartite Declaration for Fostering Employment and Decent Work in Central America and the Dominican Republic (ILO, June 2005); and, Action Plan for its implementation (ILO, August 2005); and,

  • one pilot Regional project and seven pilot national projects.

Results of national projects - National projects focused on the creation of institutional capacity, improvement of working processes; decentralization of services and production of national studies on skills supply and demand.


  • Provision of technical support to build the institutional capacity of Public Employment Services (PES). This included decentralizing the network of employment offices and equipping national labour market observatories (e.g. PCs, software for administrating job-matching);

  • Production of operation manuals for delivering job matching, placement and counseling services and carrying out labour market analysis;

  • Training Public Employment Services (PES) staff on different areas of service delivery to jobseekers and employers, including a Masters Programmes on PES Management. This resulted in 55 graduates with submission and approval of dissertation research.

  • Carry out studies on national and regional labour markets and cross-border migration flows.


  • Creation of virtual training centers (Aula Mentor) and mobile classrooms;

  • Organization and financing of virtual courses and vocational training for the improvement of professional skills of the most vulnerable populations (e.g. Indians in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala with training materials available in the Miskito language;

  • Preparation of studies on national training needs; and implementation of Labour Market Observatories in the Ministries of Labour and/or Vocational Training Institutions (El Salvador);

  • Creation of integrated systems for joint management of training and employment (e.g. System Information, Guidance and Job Search, Costa Rica), incorporating technical education, vocational training and employment services (e.g. skills development programme in basic mathematics and language for uneducated workers delivered by the National Vocational Training Institute and the Ministry of Labour in Panama).

Regional Project. Results focus on Regional Integration and South-South Cooperation

Coordination of the national project POAS and regional POA and its technical and financial performance (e.g. software for direct regional financial coordination for online tracking).

1. Creation and support for the operation of Sub-regional coordination mechanisms:

  1. Labour Market Observatories Network,

  2. Forum of Employment Directorates;

  3. Network of Vocational Training Institutes in Central America and the Dominican Republic;

  4. support for meetings of the Council of Ministers of Labour to approve the annual regional Progamme of Action and monitor the progress in the tripartite regional action plan.

2. Creation of a regional (virtual) infrastructure to facilitate South-South cooperation and communication between the institutions in the areas of the project.

  • Creation of two websites ( hosted by the ILO that served as repositories of regional training materials and tools (e.g. Technical Standards on Labour Skills, curriculum design and associated methodologies); and implementation of the agreements of the Council of Ministers and the Forum of Directors (employment management tools, occupational classification catalogues, exchange of good practices on intermediation). The server hosted also the Regional Labour Market Observatory that had as a main objective to analyze employment and vocational training needs in coordination with the Network of National Labour Market Observatories (e.g. studies on migration).

4. Creation and provision of technical support for the operation of regional working groups responsible for the development of harmonized regional materials. This activity was funded by the Ministry of Labour of Spain.

5. Implementation of the Master of Management of Public Employment Services: two editions per year, 2008 and 2009, for which 55 employment officers with a basic undergraduate degree were trained in Antigua City. The University of Zaragoza delivered training and the International Training Centre of the Spanish Cooperation Agency funded this activity.

Continuity of activities: ILO DWT/CO San Jose (2010-2014)

  • The continuation of regional activities was divided among two parallel regional projects: a) FOIL, funded by the AECID, and b9 OLACD, funded by the Ministry of Labour of Spain.

  • National pilot projects continued in two countries: a) Honduras focused on mainstreaming gender and promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities; and b) Panama, which in turn focused in hosting and providing support to the Regional Labour Market Observatory.

Second phase of FOIL (2010-2015) funded by the International Cooperation and Development Spanish Agency (AECID) through the Spain-ILO signed agreement. Implemented by the ILO.


  • the Regional Strategic Agenda for Labor and Employment Affairs of the Central American Integration System (SICA) agreed in April 2013;

  • Declaration of the Forum of Directors of Employment in Central America and the Dominican Republic on decent work, youth employment and labor migration issued in May 2013.

  • Consolidation of Sub-regional spaces and fora to continue developing joint work on employment and vocational training and to advance capacity building through the training of officials in order to ensure sustainable regional processes. Extension of the scope of regional labor issues to gender, entrepreneurship and quality management of vocational training and employment services. (See document: Synthesis of results of FOIL)

Creation of the Tripartite Board of Directors of the National Vocational Training Institutions Network (IFPs)

  • Situational studies and Diagnosis of Vocational Training and gender equality in vocational training; Regional model of Certification of Skills: training and dissemination plan;

  • Catalogue of Management Indicators for Decision-Making;

  • Periodical capacity-building by the ITC in Turin and CINTERFOR (Impact Assessment, prospecting and dual training)

Departments on Skills certification and Pedagogical Units:

  • Regional Methodologies for developing Technical Competency Standards, Curriculum design and cross-cutting material for green production and environmental sustainability/ Bank of Technical Standards

  • Transfer and implementation of SENAI (Brazil) model for prospecting training needs (for green jobs):

  • Promotion of entrepreneurship. Training of regional facilitators and Master trainers

  • Online tools for training certifiers (elaboration of standards, designing evaluation tools and skills evaluators)

  • Regional team of tutors for training Skills certifiers

III. PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT SERVICES (Job matching and counselling services)

  • National situational-analysis studies and action plans for strengthening institutional capacity formulated (2010-2012)

  • Online tools for staff training developed: skills training course for managers. Webinars on labour mobility management for employment counsellors. Repository of employment and labour mobility resources

  • Regional Team of On-line tutors trained to replicate competency courses in any of the countries of the región;

  • Guidance Manual for users and facilitators and to promote gender equality in labour intermediation and attention to workers with disabilities;

  • Regulations and operating protocols with private employment agencies and other employment offices in collaboration with business associations (Honduras) and municipal entities (Costa Rica);

  • Pilot projects for the orderly management of labor mobility (e.g. improving and updating Public Employment Services’ registry on the demand for migrant workers)


General Employment Directorates (Forum of Regional Directors on Employment)

  • Agenda and Action plan for decent work, youth employment and labor migration;

  • Formulation of employment policies: support to national processes (Costa Rica and Panamá: Employment strategies and Promotion of Green Jobs; and Nicaragua-Employment Boards);

  • Implementation of the SIMAPRO methodology for improving productivity (Costa Rica, Honduras);

  • Bilateral or Tri-lateral labour agreements for the orderly management of labor mobility


a) Good practices: All materials and guides were produced in consultation with jobseekers and employers in regional working groups that met on regular a basis. Example 1: Regional Action Plan for the Certification of Competencies. Example 2: Training materials on Green Jobs produced under the framework of the Vocational Training Institutions Network was recognized as a good practice by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2013.

All training courses targeted to PES staff were formulated in accordance with a competency-base curriculum design. Competencies gained by trainees were formally certified and recognized. The methodologies used for the design of Technical Standards for Professional Competence were recognized as good practices by a Network of Regional Specialists in this area in Uruguay 2012 and Brasil 2014. Good practices were presented by the National Training Institution of Nicaragua and El Salvador.

b) Sustainability: The sustainability of skills development through continuing vocational training for staff attached to the Ministry of Labour and the National Vocational Training Institutions is ensured by a Training of Trainers programme. All training courses are available online and recorded in webinars that can be adapted to future needs.

The establishment of a Coordination Committee ensure the sustainability of regional working groups attached to the network of National Training Institutions. For example, the website ( hosting all training resources is administered by the National Training Institute of Guatemala. The ILO DWT/CO San Jose is responsible for administrating and hosting all technical materials and training courses on employment, migration and public employment services in the following website

c) Lessons learned: To maximize available resources for countries participating in the FOIL Programmes is necessary to nurture partnerships with relevant stakeholders. Joint efforts on the part of all interested parties are crucial for achieving common objectives and share gains and costs. Such approach helps to build ownership and ensure sustainability of activities.

When designing technical cooperation projects to support ILO Constituents, it is important to pay particular attention to the goal of sustainability. Investments in technical cooperation should seek to maximize the impact of operations and increase the complementarities between institutions at the local and international level, increase synergy and avoid duplication.

d) Recommendations for the future

  • Obtaining baseline data from the beginning will help to better measure and deliver services and technical support to Constituents. Such inputs are fundamental to measure the quantitative impact of achieved results.

  • Continue investing in cooperation among developing countries of the South, to facilitate

knowledge-sharing and mutual assistance.

  • Promoting partnerships and networking among key stakeholders and government agencies responsible for skills development and inclusive labour markets in Central-America

e) Support in the implementation:

  • Sub-regional specialists (based in San José) on gender, employment and vocational training; ACTRAV specialist in trade union training activities; and,

  • International specialists in employment, migration and green Jobs (based in HQ).

  • ILO-Cinterfor for the technical facilitation of activities in vocational training and employment.

  • External technical assistance (ILO Master trainers) for training in entrepreneurship, and on quality issues in terms of vocational guidance and vocational training, development of occupational classification and management of labor mobility.

f) Partners who co-financed activities:

  • World Association of Public Employment Services (WAPES) in the Training for the orderly management of labor mobility;

  • SDC in certifying competency training;

  • FLACSO in producing studies on the migration profile in Honduras; and,

  • IOM pilot labor mobility and training of managers of Honduras and Guatemala’s projects.

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