With economic power based on agriculture and cattle raising, Argentina was able to import consumer goods and become a predominant country in its region, especially by the end of World War II. As a result, many subsidiaries of international companies were established there, even though the state gave priority to the nationalization of key sectors (trains, oil, gas, electric, telephones, etc.).
Only in the 1990s did Argentina make a major shift toward neoliberalism and privatize all resources, allowing the entry of the largest companies in each sector. The peso-dollar parity allowed companies to channel a large part of training to foreign countries (mostly to American universities).
Most state utility companies regarded training as a benefit to be received by employees, and employees often defined what they should be trained in and how much training they received. With the change of capital and globalization, training became similar to what is carried out in any developed country.
There are three different levels in the Argentinian workforce: directors, middle-level management, and white/blue collar workers. In the executive segment, companies cover core skills training with well-known private universities in the country and abroad. Special or functional needs are covered with workshops abroad, often in universities companies target for recruitment.
For middle-level managers, all training is done in Argentina. Some part of the training may be focused on the current job, and another part on preparing the individual for higher levels. For the third level, the number of training hours is lower; they are more focused on technical matters and on the current job.
Costs of Training
Overall, the cost of training is associated not only with the available resources—for example, universities have excellent training facilities, which are the same as those used for MBAs and other postgraduate courses. Therefore, the cost of one day of training for a group of 15 people can be between U.S.$2,600 and U.S.$3,200.
There also are international consulting firm subsidiaries or consultancy firms that originally were local and have become international because of their areas of operations. The cost for one day of such training varies between U.S.$1,200 and U.S.$1,600.
Many medium and small consulting firms—more oriented to local companies than to corporations (or to small subsidiaries of international corporations)—have one-day training costs between U.S.$700 and U.S.$1,000.
International companies typically follow the corporate training programs developed and delivered in Europe, the U.S., and Asia, sending a select group of directors and managers who are in full development of their careers. International courses (delivered in English) are not popular. Besides the cost (3.8 pesos = U.S.$1), most professional staff can read English but find it difficult to take part in training sessions with a more participatory dynamic.
Conversely, in recent years, the difference in the exchange rate has allowed local consultants (just like call or shared service centers) to export their services to neighboring countries, and, according to their expertise, to other locations in South America.
In the Face of Economic Crisis
While many companies have utilized the extra time resulting from low production, plant stops, and declining demand to train their staff, skills and management development training programs did see their budgets cut by 30 to 50 percent in 2008.
Looking ahead, Argentina's economy remains unpredictable. After the Argentine default in 2001, companies developed protection programs for workforces to avoid unemployment. The power of labor unions and the nationalist-statist current of Cristina Kirschner's administration put pressure on companies to avoid layoffs. Argentina still waits for the effect of its national politics, which may upset budgets and present additional challenges in human resources.
Claudio Nicolini is a specialist in human resources and leadership strategic planning. He holds an Bachelor's degree in HR and has an MBA in strategic planning. He is a professor in HR Projects at UADE (Argentina) and has been the managing director of Delta Management Consulting since 1995. He also runs ITAP International operations in Argentina.