WSA IMPACT STORIES LABORATORIA
DRIVING GENDER BALANCE IN LATIN AMERICA - WSA WINNER LABORATORIA
Low income combined with a low level of education, instability and a limited social security coverage - this is the reality for almost 80% of women in Chile in 2017.
The gender difference in terms of employment when measured by productivity level* in Latin America differs between an average of 78% men and 55% women respectively.
Furthermore, the strong job market segmentation translates into income and gender inequalities, reports Gender Equality Observatory.
Laboratoria is a social enterprise working to prepare women and organizations to shape a more diverse, inclusive and competitive digital economy. They have become a game changer in Latin America, utilizing the regions well-connected booming start-up hubs, led by Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Santiago de Chile.
With 650 M people, the region is two times the United States market. They are top consumers of social media and the 2nd growing mobile market in the world. As a region, Latin America has the base for working remotely and is perfectly positioned to make the transition to a more connected workplace. ”In 2019, Latin America and the Caribbean was the fourth largest regional online market, behind Asia, Europe and Africa. As of June 2019, there were nearly 454 million internet users in the region and South America was the subregion that had the largest internet penetration rate, with 73 percent of the population having access to this service,” reports Statista.
* The high-productivity sector is closer related to the cutting edge technology, higher level of education, better working conditions and better protection of labour institutions, while the low productivity employment is linked to workers with lower incomes, less level of education, instability, limited social security coverage and an absence of work contracts.
FORGING TALENT - LABORATORIA CHANGES THE GAME
Laboratoria is targeting not one or two, but four UN SDGs with their work. The EdTech Startup has formed teams across the whole region – in Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Chile.
Through a six-month bootcamp, based on agile principles, Laboratoria trains women from underserved backgrounds to become software developers and user experience designers, and equips them with team skills they need to thrive at work. Transforming a stay at home mom to an UX designer, and hairdresser to a software engineer, enabling them to create products with people from all over the world.
In the last 5 years, Laboratoria has trained +1,500 graduates, supported +100 hires from +600 companies and Laboratoria job placement rate has steadily increased reaching up to 85%. Since winning WSA in 2017, Laboratoria talent app has evolved to have a better structure and an improved code.
The education startup also offers training programs for organizations, with +8000 trained organization employees by now. Diversity in the tech talent provides much-needed talent to hire in the Latin America.
The COVID-19 pandemic will herald the worst economic contraction in the history of Latin American and the Caribbean, with a projected -5.3 per cent drop in activity this year, reports UN.
Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean notes that companies, that are adapting to the situation and mowing towards automation and digitalization, will create an impact in the new global economy.
With most of the world students at home in year 2020, the pandemic is revealing startling divides in digitally-based distance learning - And Laboratoria is going strong – entering the Colombian market in 2020.
THE VOICE OF LABORATORIA - IMPACT INTERVIEW
- Which goals and milestones has LABORATORIA managed to achieve since 2017?
Laboratoria received the Word Summit Award in 2017 in the category of Inclusion and Empowerment for our job placement platform. Initially, this talent app was mainly focused on a tool that allowed us to connect Laboratoria’s graduates with hiring companies. This led to hiring companies moving towards having more diverse talent and to our students accessing quality jobs that on average triple their income. Since 2017, our talent app has evolved to have a better structure, improved code and to take into account our different audiences (for example, including Spanish, Portuguese and English). Two major goals we have achieved in relation to the app are:
- The app has been integrated into our wider Learning Management System allowing our team to have a more holistic view of our students’ journey through our bootcamp. It provides us with
important data and information that helps us when making decisions and supporting individual students along the way.
- We have improved the app so that it is better aligned with our particular classroom values and methodology. We aim for our classroom experience to simulate a real workplace-environment and we want hiring companies to see our students’ profiles with their technical projects and professional recommendations rather than “grades” from a traditional classroom setting. Our app now does a better job of displaying both the technical and soft skills of our graduates.
During the past two years, we have developed strong relationships with hiring companies across the region and have been able to place graduates at highly competitive companies, including leading banks, insurance companies, retailers and software factories. We are proud that Laboratoria now has over 1,300 graduates and our job placement rate has steadily increased reaching up to 85%. Our talent app plays a key role in this process and we continue to seek ways to improve this tool to benefit our graduates and to provide much-needed diverse talent to hiring companies in Latin America. Click here to see the latest version of the platform!
- What were the biggest challenges your company has faced during the last few years?
As Laboratoria has grown, one challenge we have faced with our talent app in particular is making sure it continues to be aligned with the rest of our products that we offer both to students and companies . It can also be difficult to ensure that we continuously have our own steady stream of talent and developers working on our talent app and other technologies at Laboratoria. We are very proud of the team that we have formed across the region and the strong culture that has been the foundation of our work. However, with expansion, we have also faced some of the challenges that come with significant growth. We are taking these challenges as an opportunity to continue to learn and adapt to the needs of our team and to our students. It is also a good time to remind ourselves of why we do the work we do and to not lose site of our values - our care for our students, striving for excellence, taking intelligent risks, continuous learning and playing as a team.
- Please describe shortly how winning WSA and/or participation of the WSA Global Congress has influenced your entrepreneurial journey?
Winning WSA was a great honor for us and an excellent opportunity to help us increase our visibility and further our mission of Latin America having a diverse, inclusive and competitive digital economy that creates opportunities for all. We are seeking to become the main source of female talent for the tech sector in our region and beyond, and as we continue on our entrepreneurial journey, awards and recognitions such as WSA continue to motivate us and provide valuable feedback and also allow us to share what we have learned with other organizations.
- Anything else you would like to let the community know?
This year we are celebrating Laboratoria’s 5 years! Watch our special video that highlights the many things that have happened along the way. They have been 5 years of learning at full-speed!
Read about LABORATORIA in press:
- "Latin America Is a Growing Tech Hub. But It Needs to Invest in Its Talent"
- Fostering a More Diverse Digital Economy: Laboratoria is Boosting Inclusion in the Latin American Tech Sector for Women and Organizations
- "Laboratoria enters Colombia to offer programming bootcamps for women" by Contexto
WSA 2017 presented a diameter of digital innovation from Chile to Malaysia, from Nigeria to Finland. Be it a miniature AED machine with diagnostic app, an environmental behaviour training game, or a tiny programmable computer that helps/encourages school children to learn to code, the WSA Winners 2017 offer a vast spectre of digital innovation globally. The Winners were awarded at WSA Global Congress 2018, Vienna.
“To drive meaningful and relevant digital innovation, you have to serve local needs and compare with global excellence. With the WSA we recognize innovation of tomorrow already today. This year’s winners are an excellent selection of this momentum, matching local solutions to local needs, with global relevance. WSA highlights the diversity and excellence in digital content with impact on society.”, WSA Chairman Prof. Dr. Peter A. Bruck states.
- "Internet usage in Latin America - Statistics & Facts" report from Statista
- "Distribution of total employed population by productivity level and sex" report from Gender Equality Observatory
- "Urgent Attention Should Be Given to the Unique Vulnerabilities and Challenges Faced by Caribbean Countries to Achieve the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs in the Context of the COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond: Alicia Bárcena" article by UN ECLAC
- "COVID-19 to cause biggest economic contraction ever in Latin America & Caribbean" by UN News
- "Startling disparities in digital learning emerge as COVID-19 spreads: UN education agency" by UN News
- "How The COVID Crisis Will Evolve Latin America’s Technology Adoption" by Crunchbase News
- "WHY LATIN AMERICA?" by WindVentures
- "Latin America Is a Growing Tech Hub. But It Needs to Invest in Its Talent" by Fortune, Mariana Costa Checa