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Why Argentina must focus on education to lead in the knowledge-based economy

Luis Robbio


March 28th, 2018

Why Argentina must focus on education to lead in the knowledge-based economy

As part of President Macri’s new “Consejo de Notables” knowledge commision, I’ll be pushing for changes to the education sector to prepare our country for technology innovation and creating high-value services.

Last week I was at the annual assembly of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Mendoza. Here, as I spoke on the panel together with Rogelio Frigerio, Argentina’s Interior Minister, and several other executives from international organizations, I asked: Why does a scholarship cost so much in our country? Why are we willing to help the unemployed, but at the same time unwilling to provide them with the tools and access to education, to help them start new careers in sectors that are crying out for talent? This is a key question, because the only way to ensure that Argentina is ready for an economy where knowledge is traded and exchanged, rather than raw materials, is to equip people with the skills, or at least the basis, with which to acquire these skills. I’m passionate about this cause and the importance of education. So I’m also delighted that President Macri has just named me as one of 20 business leaders to form part of the “Knowledge Commision”, responsible for providing advice on how we can grow the knowledge-based economy in Argentina.

The Argentine government is seeking to grow what it calls “knowledge-based services”, which incorporates areas from software development to professional services. The purpose is to build a new Argentine economy, one that is characterized by technological innovation, and high-value services. The Knowledge Commision that I will be part of, is tasked with finding ways to make this a reality.

The government has already prepared a report entitled “A New Argentina: Towards The Economy of the Future” / “Una nueva Argentina: Hacia La Economía del Futuro”. The report highlights the tremendous potential of knowledge-based services to not only boost economic growth, but also productivity and create thousands of new jobs. During the panel discussion last week at the IDB, I also raised this issue, because there is sometimes a belief that technological advances can destroy jobs. However, in reality, technology both destroys and creates jobs – as it has done throughout history. The key point is to be prepared, and to equip the workforce and organizations to be on the side of creating new jobs in these new areas.

The report also highlights the current strength of Argentina’s knowledge-based economy. We have examples of excellent organizations creating world-class products and services. The challenge for the future is to strengthen this base, and create both a regional and global “hub” for innovation and knowledge. My vision is that in 10 years we will see an Argentina that exports the same amount of knowledge-based services as it does with the agroindustry – but the difference will be the tremendous increase in value that these services provide.

I’m excited by the opportunity to be part of the “Consejo de Notables” and look forward to developing concrete plans and strategic objectives with the other members. If you have would like to discuss this further with me, please let me know.

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