A government plan aimed at training two thousand students in English will end the year without having achieved its objective of giving only 85 scholarships, due to the low language level of the applicants.
The National Trust Scholarships and Student Loans made Q16.2 million available for two thousand students, but only 85 qualified.
Recipients have the opportunity to work in call centers and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).
The program, coordinated by Social Cohesion, includes a grant of U.S. $ 325 to $ 350, of which 65 percent would pay the General Secretariat of Planning of the Presidency (SEGEPLAN), 20 percent of call centers and 15 percent stakeholder.
German Lopez, Chairman of the Contact Center & BPO Guatemalan Exporters Association, confirmed the low level of awards and added that only two years ago they had identified a group of two thousand potential candidates.
According to Lopez, the delay in enabling the scholarship trust plan led some entrepreneurs to open their own academies for human resources.
Ana Esmeralda Rosas, Director of Scholarships in Segeplan, said the program was designed to accept students with a grade five, out of a total of ten in English, but the vast majority of applicants were between levels three and four.
Rosas said that the program is expected to start again in the second week of January or early February 2011, but this time the schedule will provide greater diversity and lower level in awarding the scholarship.
Ninoshka Linde, Director of Marketing and Recruiting at 24 / 7 Customer, said that Guatemala has the potential to generate 57 000 seats, and to date has 16,400 jobs.
She added that if that was achieved, the industry could represent 5% of national GDP, but currently only reaches 0.25%.
Linde added that in ten applications received in the industry, only two people have the required level of English, and so firms have had to train many applicants, with higher costs and reduced competitiveness.
Veronica Spross, Executive Director of Business for Education, said that learning English should be a state policy.
She added that although English teaching is provided in the national education system from the fourth grade, there is a lack of resources for teacher training.
“The teaching of English is important for competitiveness and to reduce poverty,” said Spross.