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The digital transformation is reshaping people’s lives, workplaces and economies. It changes what individuals do at work, how they interact with each other, where and when they buy products and how they learn. Skills are crucial to thrive in an increasingly digital and interconnected world. To reap the benefits of the new technological wave, each country relies on the skills of its population and its skills-related policies. Latin American countries are still lagging behind many countries in terms of the skills of their citizens, but the digital transformation provides new opportunities to catch up. New technologies bring countless opportunities for learning at any time, in any place and at all stages of life. From online tutorials to open education resources, online degrees or educational software, new technologies open the door to new forms of developing skills and acquiring knowledge.

This report draws on the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) and the Survey of Adult Skills, a product of the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), to examine how Latin American countries can make the most of the digital transformation to develop their students and adults’ skills. In particular, this report identifies barriers to accessing ICT infrastructure and connectivity limitations in Latin America, and provides recommendations for how they can be overcome to ensure that all students and individuals can benefit from new learning opportunities. It also emphasises the importance of rethinking how ICTs are integrated in initial education in order to seize the benefits of new technologies in Latin American schools and enhance students’ skills. Teachers are pivotal for making the most of new technologies in schools. Therefore, this report explores Latin American teachers’ use of new technologies, and how policies can best support teachers as digital tools enter their classrooms. Finally, new ways of learning are emerging and this report investigates the potential of open education and MOOCs in reaching those adults who are most in need of training in Latin America.

Supporting the Latin American region in taking advantage of the digital transformation to boost productivity, social inclusion and strengthen institutions and governance is a priority for the OECD’s engagement with Latin America. The OECD Regional Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean, founded in 2016 as a space for evidence-based policy dialogue to bring countries in the region closer to OECD standards and best practices, recently explored these issues during its Third Ministerial Summit on Productivity: “Harnessing the Digital Transformation to Boost Productivity in Latin America and the Caribbean”, which took place on 25 October 2019 in Bogota, Colombia. The Programme is committed to leveraging the organisation’s work on digital transformation in various areas, such as skills, digital infrastructure, measurement, and artificial intelligence, to assist the Latin American region in better shaping and harnessing its digital transformation and potential.

This report was prepared by Andreea Minea-Pic from the OECD Centre for Skills, under the supervision of Fabio Manca (Head of the Skills Analysis team). Montserrat Gomendio (Head of the OECD Centre for Skills) and Andrew Bell (Head of the National Skills Strategy project) provided guidance, oversight and comments. Stefano Scarpetta (OECD Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs) ensured strategic oversight for the project. The report has benefitted from helpful comments provided by staff at the Fundación Telefónica.

Three LAC countries are OECD member states: Chile, Colombia and Mexico. The OECD average includes Chile and Mexico. Colombia was not an OECD Member at the time of preparation of this publication. Accordingly, Colombia does not appear in the list of OECD members and is not included in the zone aggregates. Argentina, Brazil and Peru are partner countries to the OECD. On 15 May 2020, the OECD Council invited Costa Rica to become a Member. At the time of preparation of this publication, the deposit of Costa Rica’s instrument of accession to the OECD Convention was pending and therefore Costa Rica does not appear in the list of OECD Members and is not included in the OECD averages reported.

This report benefited from contributions from Jose Antonio Ardavin, Nathalie Basto, Paula Cerutti, Rory O’Farrell, José René Orozco, Sebastian Nieto Parra, Lucia Russo, Vincenzo Spiezia, Juan Vázquez and Anna Wiersma. Francesco Avvisati, Elena Crivellaro and Pablo Fraser also provided valuable suggestions.

Andreea Minea-Pic and Jennifer Cannon co-ordinated production. Jennifer Cannon also provided valuable support in the editorial process, while Rasa Silyte-Niavas provided administrative support.

This report was made possible by a financial contribution from Fundación Telefónica. The views expressed in this report should not be taken to reflect the official position of the Fundación Telefónica. This report is published under the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the OECD.

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