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Friday, August 29 2014 @ 08:15 AM EDT

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Panama Ports Company Trying To Fill 680 Open Positions

Employment & JobsBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development (Mitradel) just issued a press release, stating that the Panama Ports Company is trying to fill 680 vacancies for general laborers. The company will be holding a recruiting drive on Friday, 29 June 2012, together with the Mitradel in San Miguelito at the Gran Estacion, in front of the Saray and Saks stores. They are looking for males, between 21 and 35 years of age.

The Panama Ports Company has requested the assistance and support from Mitradel based on their previous experience with these kinds of recruitment drives, because the institution has an extensive database of job seekers at all occupational levels, and they can help companies hold special recruitment drives to fill a large number of vacancies.

Free transportation, food, uniforms and vocational growth as permanent contracts are some of the benefits provided by the company for those job seekers who are selected to join the group of skilled labor. Job seekers should submit their resume, personal identity card, be available to work in rotating shifts and meet the minimum education requirements of having completed the junior year of high school, preferably be able to swim and not suffer from vertigo.

This is just one more example of a company in Panama that has more jobs than there are people available to fill them.

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Charges Filed Against Union Leaders Because Ministry Of Labor Requested Audit

Employment & Jobs
Alma Cortez - Panama's Minister of Labor and Workforce Development
Alma Cortez - Panama's Minister of Labor and Workforce Development
According to a press release from the Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development (Mitradel), they have requested an audit of the Instituto Panameño de Estudios Laborales (Ipel) (Panamanian Institute of Labor Studies) because that is the entity administering the funds of the education insurance. The minister said that since taking office she has asked the Comptroller General's Office to perform this audit, because the organizations that benefit from the insurance funds could not sustain their expenses. According to the Mitradel, through the "audit a number of varied irregularities were identified that were typified as potential crimes (damage to state property)."

As a result (of the audit), prosecutors brought charges to be investigated against Mariano Mena of the Central General de Trabajadores de Panamá; Alfredo Berrocal of the Federación Nacional de Servidores Públicos; and Víctor Torres of the Convergencia Sindical, among other union leaders, said Mitradel. The minister said they would do the corresponding communications before the International Labor Organization so they will immediately know what is happening to these workers organizations in Panama. (Dia a Dia)

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Not Enough People To Fill Available Jobs - 0% Unemployment, Manpower Deficit in Panama

Employment & JobsThe economic growth has favored the opening of jobs in the country, but the reality of the Panamanian labor market shows that the number of the economically active population is less than the number of jobs being generated. This, according to the human resources service providers who help other companies find and hire employees, who say there are enough people available to fill the positions being created and developed in the country. Ricardo Chaverri, the General Manager of the company Manpower, said while the unemployment rate in Panama is extremely low compared with the rest of the countries in the region - which is good for the country - for companies is not necessarily so good because means most people are already working, and in order for companies to fill their positions they are forced to "steal" employees from other companies, or to bring them in from abroad. "That brings two things. Either they start a war of higher wages and benefits, or they start to incur the additional costs of having to bring in staff from other countries," he said. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: I saw someone doing an interview on the morning news about this same subject today. They said right now there are only 60,000 people in Panama who are unemployed, and there are 90,000 jobs that need to be filled. So, not only is the Panamanian economy in a state of 100% employment (or, 0% unemployment) in fact there is a manpower deficit. Another headline in La Prensa this morning said Foreign Direct Investment fell 15.3% in the first trimester of 2012. Of course because the headline appeared in La Prensa they found a way to blame Martinelli, and implied the drop off was due to the internal politics in Panama, which is crap. It's much more likely the drop off in FDI is directly related to the manpower shortage. Companies won't make the investment in a country to build (whatever) if they can't hire people to run it.

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More Than 55,000 Work Contracts Registered With The Ministry of Labor

Employment & JobsThe number of work contracts registered by employers at the end of February this year at the Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development (Mitradel) represented a decrease of 4.67% less than last year, with 55,767 registered in the period indicated. The data, highlighted in a report by the Economic Analysis Division of the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) reveal further that permanent contracts and specific work contracts increased by 712 and 1,170 respectively, while defined contracts decreased by 4,616. This reflects, according to a statement from the MEF, that in the capital companies registered a decrease of 6.57%, mainly those signed for a definite period of time (33.74%), which may have been replaced with contracts for a specific job where there was an increase (20.78%) in Mitradel, as well as permanent contracts (6.63%) signed after the completion of a probation period.

The report prepared by MEF, also stresses that in the interior of the country there were fewer contracts (2.08%), but the difference with those for 2011 was lower than in the capital city. The most notable declines were in the Regional Offices of Chiriqui (40.3%), Panama West (31.0%) and Veraguas (47.3%) due to the completion of construction projects. However, those kinds of contracts caused increases in the provinces of Herrera (57.7%) and Los Santos (106.2%) where roadway infrastructure projects are being developed.

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More Foreigners Looking For Work In Panama

Employment & JobsThe foreign population in Panama is increasing. Outsiders see the country as a safe route to employment. One example is the 15% increase in approved work permits for workers of other nationalities in the first five months of 2012. This upward trend of migration is displacing Panamanian workers who are concerned this situation increases unemployment and lowers wages.

Labor Supply - The arrival of multinationals with specific technical requirements, and in some cases a lack of a skilled local (Panamanian) workforce have pushed the employment of foreigners in the country. The work related to the project to expand the Panama Canal and the construction of Metro Line One are also allowing for workers from other countries to see Panama as a job offer that is opening up thanks to sustained economic growth.

Market In The Sights - A statistical report from the Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development (Mitradel) shows that so far in 2012 a total of 5,123 work permits have been issued to foreigners. Most of the applications are for people who are married to Panamanians. Foreigners staying in the country come from 74 different nations. Mitradel Statistics show that of all labor migration, 36.3% is from Colombia. Then followed by Venezuela (9%), China (6.5%), Dominican Republic (6.1%) and Nicaragua (4.7%).

Concern - Rafael Chavarria, an official of the National Confederation of Organized Workers (CONATO), yesterday expressed concern at the increase of foreigners in the country. He said the authorities should control the entry of foreigners, since due to the development of mega projects being built in the country, they are taking advantage of this situation to put their eyes on the labor market in Panama. Although Chavarria admitted that labor migration is positive in part because of the new experiences and technologies brought to the table by people of other nationalities, he said they are displacing Panamanian workers.

Samuel Vargas, the Director General of Employment at Mitradel does not agree with Chavarria. He said although work permits are kept on the rise, this is not an alarming figure for the country. Vargas said it has been difficult for companies to hire staff for key areas such as general helpers, drivers, sales, and high-profile positions such as electricians, engineers, plumbers and bricklayers.

Strengthen Human Resources - For her part, the director of operations in Mexico, Central America and Dominican Republic for the US firm Manpower, Maria Luisa Rocha, said there is need to strengthen human resources in the English language, to prevent these vacancies from being filled by foreigners. She said "a major challenge" is to place the right people in business who need to "capitalize on the talents of young people." Rocha added that in Panama unemployment is at 4.5%, but among those aged 15 to 24 years of age it's at 12.7%, so "we must focus on helping young people find a job opportunity that is attractive to them, where they can develop their capabilities," she said. (Mi Diario)

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Labor Ministry Issues Warnings To Those Not Paying Minimum Wages According To Law

Employment & JobsThe Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development (Mitradel) warned on Wednesday, June 6 that "progressive fines will be imposed in addition to other compulsive and coercive measures in order to make possible the fulfillment of back pay" of the minimum wage, in force in Panama since 2012. Labor Minister Alma Cortez spoke on this subject in a statement "in response to the repeated complaints about the failure to pay minimum wage," she stated in a press release. Mitradel also reiterated that this measure will be strictly enforced, and warned that those who do not comply will be punished according to law. Labor officials said they are "making one last appeal to ensure compliance with this provision, as established by Executive Decree 240 of 28 December 2011 and Executive Decree 241 of 30 December 2011." The Mitradel also warned they would not rule out publishing the list of companies that are found to be not complying with this provision. The average minimum wage to be paid to workers in region 1 is $432.64 per month. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Why issue warnings? The government should just issue fines to any company found to not be complying. What's with this "one last appeal" stuff. Like, we really, really, really mean it this time. That's crap. They should just respond to every complaint with an inspector, and issue fines as necessary to enforce - you know - the law. Publishing a list of names of violators is a good idea.

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No, I Still Can't Help You Get A Job Working On The Panama Canal Expansion

Employment & Jobs By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received today via email: "Where may I find information regarding the companies currently building the new canal. I manage highway construction projects in California and would like to work and be part of the New Panama Canal. I was born in Guatemala City, lived there for 11 yrs and now I am a citizen of the USA. I’ve worked in the marine part of the new Bay Bridge project in San Francisco California. My research for companies doing the work has come up empty. I you have any information or links that is all I need. Thank you for the help. Cheers. Pedro Santos, Project Manager Security Paving Co., Inc."

Editor's Comment: Good luck finding a job to work on the expansion of the Panama Canal, Pedro. However, as I have said many times in the past, I run a news website, not an employment agency. Everyone - please stop asking me to help you find work in Panama. You will have to do your own Google searches of the Internet. I don't keep "lists" of companies that are executing infrastructure improvement projects. Keep reading the website, but I'm not going to do your homework for you. It's for your own good. Think of it as tough love...

Related Articles:

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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MITRADEL Job Fair on Thursday

Employment & JobsThe next job fair will be held on Thursday 31 May at the Carlos A. Mendoza School in the area of Belisario Porras, district of San Miguelito, where more than 1,500 vacancies are available for immediate employment in various economic activities, according to the Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development (Mitradel). Among the vacancies announced in a Mitradel press release, there are jobs available in the areas of adjutant general, warehouse assistant, kitchen help, food handlers, customer service, cashiers, wholesalers, butchers, maintenance, security and drivers. Those attending the fair should submit their resumes, photocopy of ID, copy of diplomas, and a police record. Also, anyone who needs one will be able to obtain a food handler's health card for free at the fair, as a joint activity with the Ministry of Health. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The economy is so hot in Panama, if you've got a pulse, you've got a job. However having too many jobs and not enough people to fill them can be a bad thing, as companies find they can't grow or prosper due to a lack of manpower. How long can an economy sustain year on year growth averaging at 7.2% when the population growth rate is only 1.4%? That's right, over the past nine years, from 2003 through 2011, Panama's economy has grown by an average of 7.2%, every year. That, my friends, is a truly amazing feat for any national economy. Look at it this way. If you were making $40,000 dollars per year in 2003 and received a 7.2% raise every year for nine years, at the end of 2011 you would be making $74,784 per year. That's exactly what has happened to the Panamanian economy, in less than a decade. Through the magic of compounding, that works out to an astounding 86.9% growth - almost a doubling of the national economy. By comparison, in the United States over the past nine years the average annual GDP growth has been a sluggish 1.74% - which is why you might not have a job if you live there, because the growth in the economy is just barely outpacing the growth in population.

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Panama Ports Company Fires More Than 100 Workers

Employment & JobsRepresentatives of employees of the Panama Ports company on Tuesday denounced the dismissal of one hundred workers, some with over 11 years of service in the company. Martin Gonzalez, an attorney for the workers, said the company used deception to dismiss the workers, although it had promised not to retaliate after an earlier strike last month. Some of the workers who were fired are gantry crane operators, and the company announced it needs to hire at least 2,000 workers, said the lawyer. Leonardo Ward, one of the dismissed workers, said the company had offered the advice of their own lawyers to dismiss them. (TVN)

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Looking For Funds To Pay For Public Sector Minimum Wage Increase

Employment & Jobs
The government of Panama has promised an increase in the minimum wage for public employees
The government of Panama has promised an increase in the minimum wage for public employees
Panama's Minister of Economy and Finance Frank De Lima announced in January 2012 there would be a new minimum wage for the public sector. At the time it was reported this salary adjustment could come into effect in April. So far they have not been able to define where the funds will come from to pay for these raises, said Panama's Minister of Labor Alma Cortes by telephone this morning. Cortes explained that De Lima and Deputy Minister Omar Castillo are working on the issue, because "it is a commitment from the Government." (Telemetro)
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Copa Airlines Holding Job Fair Tomorrow

Employment & Jobs
Copa Airlines Airplane On The Ramp At The Airport
Copa Airlines Airplane On The Ramp At The Airport
Tomorrow, from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Radisson Decapolis, Copa Airlines will offer a job fair in search of customer service personnel. The airline will select candidates to fill positions as cabin crew and passenger service agents. Applicants must have an advanced level of English, know how to swim, availability to work rotating shifts, among other requirements. (Siglo)

Editor's Comment: The lack of qualified personnel to fill open jobs and positions in Panama is getting to a critical level. Now companies are actively "stealing" employees from the competitors by offering higher wages, better benefits, and signing bonuses. Normally that would be fine in a competitive marketplace, however there's no one left to fill the open slots. And I mean, forget about skills, education, training, and experience. Many companies will take any warm body, as long as they have a pulse...

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Talks Resume Between Ports Workers and Ministry of Labor

Employment & JobsResults are expected. At 2:00 pm talks between the employees of the Panama Ports Company and the Ministry of Labor will begin, during which they are expected to reach an agreement. According to Labor Minister Alma Cortez, so far in the talks they have reached an agreement on six of the twelve items of the proposal, so the expects all to end well. While the talks are going on, the employees remain in their posts, awaiting the conclusion of the talks. (Dia a Dia)

Editor's Comment: This was the illegal strike by the ports workers. They have gone back to work while these talks take place. The company already has a relatively recent collective bargaining agreement in place with these workers. The worker's strike was more noise than substance.

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So This New Kid Calls Me, Looking For A Job...

Employment & Jobs By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I know times are tough in the United States. In some areas of the country, and specifically around some cities there's simply more people than there are jobs as reflected in the unemployment rates for example in Yuma, AZ - 24.5% and Ocean City, NJ - 17.5%. For the entire state of California the unemployment rate is 10.9%. As a result it's not surprising some people might decide to migrate to Panama in search of jobs or opportunities. They might have heard about the expanding economy in Panama, the project to expand the Panama Canal, to build the new Metro subway system, and the explosion in the construction of homes, apartment buildings, and hotels. And in fact the unemployment rate in Panama is now down at about 4% and many employers are complaining frequently to the government of Panama about a lack of manpower, applying pressure and asking them to open up the rules to make it easier to hire more foreigners. I've heard rumors soon the government might pass a law or an executive order to allow some companies to have as many as 50% of their workforce as foreigners on temporary work permits. I think the government is working out those details right now. They simply have to, because there are more jobs than warm bodies to fill them - forget about training, education, experience, and language skills. At this point they will pretty much take you if you have a pulse. But in any case...

I Received This Email Yesterday: People contact me often looking for help or advice, and I try to help them when I can. I've frequently said in the past it's a waste of time to send me your resume or ask for a job, because that's not what I do - I'm not an employment agency and I'm not hiring. Anyone who is looking for work needs to talk to the guys who have the jobs, and that's not me - I'm not a clearing house for people looking for work. But anyway, this is the email I received last night; "Good Afternoon Don, I was referred to you by a good friend that knows you here in Panama City, Panama. I tried to call both your cell and your US number but could not get through. I would love to get on your mailing list, and more importantly speak to you for a few minutes. When you find the time I would greatly appreciate if you could contact me real quick on a few things. My contact info is below. I look forward to speaking with you soon. Have a great day! Thanks. Zach Moore - 6467-6407 (cell)" Seems innocent enough, right? (more)

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Foreign Service Officer Test at US Embassy in Panama

Employment & JobsBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received this morning via email: "US Department of State, Careers Representing America - U.S. Department of State Invites you to take action. Your career starts by visiting our website at www.careers.state.gov where you can explore who we are, what we're about, and more. It's s also where you can register for the next Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT). All registrations for the Foreign Service Officer Test must be completed online. The link to online registration will be available at our website and the registration package must be submitted at least 48 hours prior to the opening of the window. The test will be offered quarterly, each year, and registration for the FSOT will be open on a continuous basis. Applicants must be citizens of the United States. Applicants must be at least 20 years old. Applicants must be available for worldwide assignment. No specific level in a foreign language is required for applicants. Next test at US Embassy Panama will be in June 6th, 2012." (US Embassy Panama Press Release)

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Workers Unions Will File A Complaint Against Executive Order Establishing New Minimum Wage

Employment & JobsLabor Minister Alma Cortez acknowledged an error occurred when the new minimum wage was established for workers in the wholesale and retail industries, but she said the error was later corrected through Executive Order 241, which established the correct minimum payment for these workers. Executive Order 240 established that the new minimum wage for wholesale and retail workers was to increase by 18%, when in fact it should have been raised by 15%, so the next day the error was fixed with the issuance in Executive Order 241. Cortez reiterated the Government does not want to have to intervene again in the minimum wage adjustment that will take place in 2014, when the next increase will occur.

Meanwhile, union leader Genaro Lopez said when the adjustment to the minimum wage was announced, there was a reduction for grocery workers who had a salary of $214, but now it's $208. According to Lopez, this contradicts the provisions of the Constitution, because the minimum wage cannot be decreased and they will file a lawsuit against Executive Order 241.

Meanwhile, businessman Roberto Lombana does not like that the government does not want to be part of the procedure to establish a new minimum wage, because it should be a consensus among the three parties. At the same meeting, the private sector presented a proposal for a reclassification of the minimum wage for workers in clinics and hospitals. It was learned the issue will be addressed at the next meeting, where representatives of the Union will be present in hospitals and the private sector. (Panama America)

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"Let me know how things look for employment down there."

Employment & JobsBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received this morning via email: "Evening Don: I have been looking to relocate to a spot where there is work and better climate. I noticed your bio and the piece you had drafted about the canal expansion, sounds damn interesting on this end. My background is well rounded as I grew up on a small coastal farm and was raised by folks who owned small business's and developed land. Business experience, includes heavy equip. operation and management, all excavation techniques that include large civil projects, purchasing, contract negociation, fuel distribution and regulations that pertain to that industry, and road construction and all steps to perform mass excavation, logging, clearing, drilling rock, drainage ect. I have a valid passport and am clean cut and 53 years old and in good health. Oregon where I reside is in severe depression and I am looking to produce elsewhere. I am fairly well traveled.....If you get a minute let me know how things look for employment down there.... With respect, KH."

Please Stop Asking Me About Jobs: I know there are a lot of people in the United States who are unemployed. I know there are all kinds of articles on this website about how many jobs there are here in Panama. But, this is a news operation, not an employment agency. I receive email like this frequently, and I never answer them. If you want to investigate employment opportunities in New York City, would you write an email to the editor of the New York Times? Of course not. You would look for companies that are hiring, and talk to them. You should do that. Remember, Google is your friend. And, I'm not going to be doing any web searches for anyone. So in summary, don't start your job search with me, because it won't go anywhere.

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Layoffs Expected In Response To Minimum Wage Increase

Employment & JobsWith the increase to the minimum wage of between 15% to 18%, agricultural producers and entrepreneurs predict they will have to implement staff reductions in order to cope with the higher wages they will have to start paying their workers on 1 January 2012. Virgilio Saldaña, president of the Manufacturers Association of the Highlands, considers the increase to the minimum wage approved by the government on Wednesday to be just, but he said the increase does not come at a good time considering that the agricultural sector is "in trouble." According to Saldana, the new minimum wages set by the executive 'will jeopardize many jobs', as many producers will have to make adjustments in spending.

CONCERN: Employers will reduce to some extent their ability to create jobs, said Saldana, who argued that the highlands of the province of Chiriqui generates about 6,000 direct jobs in the agricultural sector. "It is unfortunate that while (the wage increase) is beneficial to some employees, others must be sacrificed," he concluded. Saldaña's opinion is shared by the president of the National Association of Micro and Small Enterprise, Gloriela Quintana, who said small business owners will have to implement layoffs in order to deal with the increase in the minimum wage. In the agribusiness sector, the increase was 15%. Right now hourly wages are from $1.08 to $1.16, and after 1 January 2012 those will increase to $1.22 to $1.43 Zones 1 and 2, respectively.

The Increase is Not Enough: Edgardo Voitier, assistant secretary of the National Federation of Public Servants (FENASEP), said raising minimum wages by 15% to 18% does not even cover the increases to basic food costs. Voitier, who was part of the Minimum Wage Commission on behalf of the National Council of Organized Workers (CONATO) as an alternate, questioned the Executive's lack of interest include measures such as freezing of food prices in the decree authorizing the increase. He said this was disrespectful to the workers of public institutions who also pay food bills, electricity, housing, among others. According to Voitier failing to regulate the prices of basic goods will cause the increase to be not noticeable, because businessmen are free to set prices as they see fit.

Payroll Will Increase By $300 Million Dollars: The business leaders represented in the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP) expressed concern over minimum wage increase in a statement. Federico Humbert, president of the union, explained that an increase of 15% will cause an increase in private sector payroll of $300 million more a year. The employer complained that the government did not take into account the issue of productivity proposed by the CCIAP, which proposed that the most efficient workers should earn more. Executive Decree 240 approving the minimum wage increase that will govern for the next two years, estimates a scale between $411 and $490 the maximum. The Government's decision left both the workers and businessmen disgruntled, and both think the increase was unjust. (Siglo)

Editor's Comment: That $300 million dollars is going to come from somewhere, and it's not just going to materialize out of thin air. On one side of the equation businesses will certainly reduce the size of their workforce somewhat to keep their payroll in line. On the other side of the equation businesses will all increase their prices to generate the additional cash flow necessary to pay the higher payrolls. About one third of the Panamanian work force gets paid at the minimum wage level. So, you can expect this increase to add to inflationary pressures in the near future. Generally speaking, prices will go up, pretty much across the board, for just about everything.

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Minimum Wage Increased By 15% to 18%

Employment & JobsThe Executive yesterday approved a minimum wage increase of between 15% and 18%, according to economic activity, occupation and size of companies around the country. The monthly wage of a worker will increase to between $432 and $490 per month. Today the minimum wage is between $376 and $416. The the minimum wage will take effect on 1 January 2012, according to the Executive Decree approved yesterday in the Cabinet and published in the Official Gazette. The new layout brings into Region One - where higher wages are paid - the districts of Capira, Chame, Antón, Natá, Las Tablas, Bugaba and Boquete, which had been in Region Two. Union leader Rafael Chavarria said the increase does not meet the expectations of workers, who demanded $540 per month. Anthony Fletcher, of the Panamanian Association of Business Executives, said the increase is higher than that proposed by the business leaders, and it does not correspond with productivity. For his part, the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama Federico Humbert Arias, said the 15% adjustment would create an increase of about $300 million dollars per year in payrolls throughout the country. And this does not take into account other additional or subsequent increases that will take place within companies. "It is a 'thrust' against the micro and small enterprises, an important part of the engine of our economy," he said. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: As expected the union leaders wanted more and the business leaders wanted to pay less. This increase basically splits the difference and more than makes up for the increases in cost of living due to inflation (at about 10%) so it also should add somewhat to the true spending power of the poorest Panamanians. This article fails to point out that the true cost of having an employee in Panama is actually about twice the stated wage, once you add in additional expenses for Social Security payments, mandatory vacation time, paid holidays, maternity leave, and the "13th month" bonuses. So, if you're a businessman out there making your plans and doing the math, start with the monthly minimum wage, double it, and multiply times 12. That's about your annual cost per employee. And of course that will be higher if you need skilled labor or anyone who can demand a higher wage, someone who is bilingual, high school or college graduate, skilled in just about anything, etc.

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Metro Bus Drivers To Get A $100 Per Month Raise - Salary Will Be $680 Base

Employment & Jobs By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The government of Panama has finally been forced to take the gloves off when it comes to their efforts to hire more drivers for the ever expanding Metro Bus public transportation system. Starting in February 2012, Metro Bus drivers will receive a monthly base salary of $680 - representing an increase of $100 over the current base. The government is expanding the system and deploying new buses as fast as they arrive in the country, as they take the old "Red Devil" buses off the streets. They have been having problems attracting drivers to take the bus driver jobs because Panama's economy has been red hot and expanding steadily, creating a stream of new and better paying jobs. Simply put, anyone who can drive a bus can usually get a better paying job driving something else. The drivers also get other incentives for performance, arriving on time, avoiding problems on the road such as accidents, and the like. This inability to hire drivers is representative of the broader problems in the labor market in Panama, where there is an abundance of new jobs but a shortage of skilled personnel to fill them. This new wage will put the bus drivers at about $200 per month - or about 45% - above the new minimum wage. On a side note, the government of Panama is paying a $25,000 dollar "severance" payment to the owners of the old "Red Devil" buses for each vehicle that is taken off the road.

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Cabinet Will Set New Minimum Wage Today - $470 Per Month Expected

Employment & JobsThe new minimum wage in Panama City will be about $470 per month, said a source close to the talks. It now will fall to the Executive Cabinet Council to set the new minimum wage salary in their meeting to be held today, after a commission of businessmen and worker's organizations failed in their attempt to reach a consensus decision. Today, the last scheduled Cabinet meeting of 2011 could establish the new minimum wage that will be in effect for the next two years. Yesterday, President Ricardo Martinelli announced that the increase might be about 15%, taking into account increases in the cost of living of between between 10% and 12%. (Siglo)

Editor's Comment: In the last couple of months there have been meetings of a special commission that was supposed to try to reach a mutual consensus. Obviously the union leaders were asking for way too much money and a massive increase in the minimum wage (and that was not about to happen) and the business leaders proposed a much lower increase - while in reality they don't want to pay any higher wages at all. In the end it now falls to the Executive Cabinet Council to make the final decision, and that will be that. This issue comes up every two years.

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Shortage Of Trained Workers Causes Influx of Foreigners in Panama

Employment & JobsThere will be an increased demand for workers in the trade, construction, telecommunications and transportation sectors in the first quarter of 2012. This is the picture revealed in the Manpower Survey of Employment Outlook, which places the Net Employment Outlook at +24%. The results for the next year place Panama as the second country in Latin America after Brazil (in terms of growth), with positive projections on labor. Despite these good prospects, the country has its Achilles in the subject of manpower, because there is a shortage of qualified personnel to fill the spots of jobs that are being created. This situation causes the international companies who settle here, and who often face a shortage of the human resources they need, to have to bring staff in from other countries, said Eric Quesada, the Regional Director of Manpower.

31% of the 628 Panamanian companies surveyed said they plan to increase their workforce next year, 7% said they plan decreases, and 61% said they are not planning to make any changes, and the remaining 1% said they don't know. "Today there is a major challenge for companies to find staff, and this is particularly true for specialists. The foreign population is growing, people who come to occupy those positions that cannot be filled with local talent," he said. Quesada added that the current rate by the year 2025 about 25% of the population of Panama will be foreigners. For example, in his experience, there are more customers who are asking for foreign employees, however there are limitations in local law. The trends for increases in hiring are located in Panama City with +29% and the province of Colon at +28%.

For his part, Francisco de Ycaza, the President of the Panamanian Association of Business Executives (APEDE), said there is a need to train staff in Panama, but said they are working on that. The businessman said the importation of professionals should not be seen as a threat, since the measure would help to increase the country's internal preparation and there will be a greater fluidity of knowledge.

Meanwhile, Juan Planells, the Director of the Foundation for Economic and Social Development of Panama (FUDESPA), explained that the lack of trained personnel is obviously a problem for the country's sustained growth. He noted it would be ideal for companies to acquire their human resources here, since the aim should be that the riches are for Panamanians. He acknowledged the issue of education is a long-term problem, it is necessary to develop technical courses that train specialists, but also to promote values ​​such as leadership, responsibility and attitude. He added these elements are the keys to success for the workers. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: And the situation I've been predicting for at least three years now is becoming reality. Panama's economy is creating more jobs than there are Panamanians trained to fill them. The government of Panama will eventually have to loosen the laws that restrict employment by foreigners. I would suggest special one year contracts - package deals that include both immigration and work permits on an as needed basis, renewable as long as the economy continues to kick ass. There are millions of people in the United States, for example, who are currently unemployed who would be more than happy to come down here to work. The problem (for them) is that the wage scales are not up to US standards. There's much more of a flow of foreign labor from places like Colombia and other Latin American countries whose economies are not kicking ass as in Panama.

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Business Leaders Propose a 7% Increase To The Minimum Wage

Employment & JobsOn Wednesday, 14 December 2011, business leaders in Panama presented their proposal for a new minimum wage, an increase of 7% over the current minimum wage, announced the group's representative Roberto Lombana. This proposal would raise the minimum wage in Panama to between $402 to $445 dollars per month. With this proposal workers who are currently receiving $376 per month (the lowest wage in the scale) would receive $402 per month, and those receiving $416 would receive $445. The representative of the business leaders on the commission said the proposal has been well studied and is consistent with the reality of the country. However, he said they are willing to continue negotiations.

REACTION - Rafael Chavarria, of the National Council of Organized Workers, said the workers reject outright the proposal presented by the business leaders. He added that the proposal put forward by the labor leaders - asking for an increase to $540 per month - is not debatable. For his part, the Deputy Minister of Labor and Workforce Development, Darius Falcon Piraquive, said both sides have until 20 December to reach an agreement. Otherwise, the Executive will set the new minimum wage salary that will go into effect in January 2012, the official said. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: The negotiations to determine a new scheme for minimum wages in Panama continues. A 7% increase might sound like a lot, but inflation has been running at around 5% so it's really not much of a tangible increase, and rather just enough to keep pace. In these kinds of things you can just about split the difference - expect the bottom line to come in at about $460 to $480 or so, I bet. More than what the business leaders are proposing and less than what the union leaders are demanding.

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Government Commission Still Debating Potential Minimum Wage Increase

Employment & JobsEverything indicates it is the Executive branch that will finally decided on a new minimum hourly wage rate, as calculated by the Comptroller General of the Republic, which will affect about 400,000 workers in Panama. Labor leaders yesterday proposed that the minimum wage - which is now at $416 per month - be raised to $540 per month. Businessmen (employers) preferred to treat the issue with caution, however they have announced that they oppose the implementation of a so-called "single zone" for the entire country. Meanwhile, the Minister of Labor and Workforce Development, Alma Cortés said she hopes that the various sectors in the National Minimum Wage Commission agree and reach a consensus, no later than next Thursday. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: OK, so about 400,000 workers in Panama are making minimum wage. There are about 1.5 million workers in Panama - a measure of the total workforce. So therefore, the other 1.1 million are making more than minimum wage. And of course there are others who are "off the books" working in the "gray" labor market and it's hard to tell exactly what those people are earning. The total labor force - now at 1.5 million people - is growing daily as the economy continues to expand and new jobs are added. Every year X number of people retire out or leave the labor market for whatever reason. Y number of kids graduate from high school or college and enter the labor force and Y > X. Add to that Z number of people (foreigners) who immigrate to Panama in search of jobs and opportunity. But that ratio - about one third making minimum wage and about two thirds making more - is interesting.

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Prison Convicts Will Now Be Used As Garbage Collectors

Employment & JobsThe Minister of Government, Roxana Mendez and the Administrator of the Authority For Urban and Household Cleanliness, Enrique Ho Fernandez, signed a cooperation agreement today. This agreement will allow prison convicts to pay their sentences through community work as garbage collectors. Inmates must meet certain requirements to be allowed into the program. This agreement will also serve to educate the inmates on the proper handling of solid waste in the La Joya and Joyita prisons. The agreement contemplates the possibility that inmates who participate in the project, once they finish serving their sentences, might be hired by the AAUD. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: Reality on the ground - the AAUD is having problems recruiting and retaining garbage collectors. The pay sucks, the work sucks, and there are plenty of other jobs available. So now the government is literally dipping into the prisons to fill positions, to get the convicts to do the work that no one else will do.

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Unemployment in Panama Drops to 4.5% - Lowest In Modern History

Employment & JobsUnemployment in Panama fell to 4.5% in August 2011, a decrease of one percentage point compared to the most recent measurement of 5.6% in March of this year, said on Thursday the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF). The report notes that in rural areas the unemployment rate fell from 3.9% to 2.4%, and in urban areas unemployment fell from 6.4% to 5.4%. The August 2011 unemployment rate is the lowest in at least the last four decades, said the Department of Social and Economic Analysis of the MEF, based on information from the National Institute of Statistics and Census. The report mentioned that the second lowest unemployment rate recorded to date was a 5.1% in 1966. Panama has an economically active population of about 1.5 million people. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: In fact Panama has already reached a "practical level of zero unemployment," meaning that there are many more jobs available than there are people to fill them. These people who are currently unemployed are basically unemployable for several reasons. Either they have little or no formal education, they didn't finish school or are practically illiterate, they have some kind of problems with addiction to either alcohol or drugs, or have a long criminal record. On the other hand, salaries for those people with highly sought after skill sets are quickly rising as employers face more and stiffer competition to find and retain valuable employees. A smart, educated, bilingual manager who is capable of handling almost any situation can practically name their price. The government of Panama is now scraping the bottom of the barrel so to speak, and twisting people's arms to get them to attend some kind of training class to improve their hire-ability. Panama's economy keeps chugging along, growing at a rate of 8.5% this year (at least), so even more jobs are being created as we speak. Sooner or later Panama will be forced to (gently) allow foreigners to come here to work, or risk slowing the economic engine due to a lack of skilled manpower. This unemployment rate of 4.5% is the lowest in modern recorded history.

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I Get These Kinds Of Requests All The Time - People Looking For Work (Panama Canal Expansion)

Employment & JobsBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I receive these kinds of requests all the time, like this one that came in via email today: "I was glad to find your web site , a friend told me they are needing welders and heavy eqpt. operators to work on the canal project but I am unable to find out how to get hired on there would you please help me in this mater , I have a fifty foot live aboard that I wish to bring there to live on mabe at a later date and I need to know if that is possible as well, Thank you for your help on this matter. JT." Unfortunately I don't run an employment agency and I really don't have good contact information for the companies who are building the expansion of the Panama Canal. People are just lazy sometimes. They do a quick Google search on "Panama," find my website, and ask me if I can help them get a job in Panama. Some even send me resumes. Well sorry folks, there are simply way too many complications that come with a foreigner from the United States or anywhere else who wants to come to Panama to work on the Panama Canal. If they would just take five more minutes to do a better Google search, they would be able to find out the names of those companies, contact them, and find out how to submit a resume. However, I don't do web searches for anyone but myself. These kinds of requests always go unanswered, so you can stop sending them. I mean, keep reading the website, but you're going to have to find your own job. Good luck.

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Panama lacks manpower

Employment & Jobs #Panama - The Panamanian labor market is experiencing a dilemma: there is not enough manpower to work in tourism, technology and communications, construction and financial intermediation, among others. A study by the Research Department of Employment, of the Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development (MITRADEL) realizes it. It also reveals that by the end of this year and in early 2012, more than 11,000 new workers will be required just in the hotel industry. Samuel Vargas, the General Manager of Jobs at MITRADEL explained that just last week they intervened to allow 700 people to be admitted to work on the expansion of the Panama Canal, and by January of next year there will be a need for 2,500 new workers for the new Metro subway system. "The real work on the Metro system will begin in January," he said.

Vargas said that the country companies are having problems because there is not even labor available for such activities as drivers or general assistants. "We have to continue training to meet the high demand," he said. MITRADEL data reveal that in the last job fair held at the Roberto Duran gym on 12 October 2011, more than 100 companies had 14,900 jobs to fill, but the fair was attended by only 5,000 people.

Rafael Chavarria, coordinator of the National Council of Organized Workers, believes that formal education in the country is not doing its job. "The professional and technical institutes should be given more resources, since that is the labor required," said the union leader. He added that the workforce could be trained in the National Training Institute for Human Development. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Did you catch the buried headline? The Ministry of Labor "intervened" to allow 700 foreign laborers enter the country in order to work on the expansion of the Panama Canal. However they didn't actually say that in the article. They don't want to say it. The government of Panama doesn't want to admit that they can't get Panamanians to train up to fill these jobs, so they are very quietly allowing foreigners in, but only when the employers start screaming at the tops of their lungs. I've been preaching this for years. The Panamanian economy continues to grow and expand, meaning more and more jobs are being created all the time. This year growth of more than 10% is expected. However the manpower pool is already stretched thin. The government has been applying band-aid fixes, but pretty soon they are going to have to call out the big guns. Meaning, to loosen up the rules for foreigners to come here to work. And when Panamanians start bitching the answer should be "Do you have a job? If so, then what are you complaining about? If not, here's a list of 9,000 jobs we need to fill. Pick one, and we will train you to fill it. Everyone else with a political agenda, pound sand." And by the way, a road-trip to Panama for every elected politician in Washington DC should be a mandatory assignment. They should have to write a paper that answers the question "What is Panama doing right, and what do we need to change in order to be more like them?"

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INADEH and COPA Airlines Ink $2 Million Dollar Training Deal

Employment & JobsWith the growth of the aviation industry in Panama, there is a need for a large number of pilots, and faced with this fact, the INADEH and Copa Airlines signed a training agreement worth $2 million dollars. According to the CEO of Copa Airlines, Pedro Heilbron, "due to a lack of financial capacity, young people don't study to become a pilot because the degree costs about $60,000 dollars." "This training program aims to close that gap for young people who have the vocation to be pilots," said Heilbron. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: About a week ago I spoke to a couple of American pilots who had been recruited by Copa Airlines to come down here to fly for them. Copa currently has a significant shortfall of pilots. According to the guys I spoke to, Copa is one of the worst paying airlines and therefore it's hard for then to retain the qualified pilots they already have. As soon as young new pilots get certified, once they have some experience, they take off (har) for greener pastures and higher salaries in other countries. So now Copa is being forced to recruit pilots from other countries like the United States.

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Unemployment in Panama At 5.6% - Lowest Rate in 45 Years

Employment & Jobs By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - This morning Roberto Henriquez, Panama's Minister of Economy and Finance, sent via his Twitter account - "Unemployment in Panama is at 5.6%, the lowest rate in 45 years. Together we will resolve the problems of health and education." The unemployment rate in Panama continues to fall and in fact I don't really trust this 5.6% number because I think in reality it's even lower. Large business owners and employers will tell you they are having more and more problems finding qualified workers to fill the positions already available. Both the government and private entities are working hard to "train up" those Panamanians who are ready and willing to work, but who lack a skill set that would allow them to enter the labor market. Like, a short course in welding and presto- there's a new welder. In three years he will be a relatively experienced welder. The unprecedented growth in the Panamanian economy will continue to generate additional revenue for the government, which they can spend to fix the problems of health and education mentioned by Minister Henriquez. And of course the headlines today are dominated by the issues of the killer antibiotic resistant bacteria in the Social Security hospital (health) and the teacher's strike (education.) Is Henriquez sounding presidential yet? He's already running for president in 2014, although he has not formally announced the start of his campaign.

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Local Talent Lacking To Fill Newly Created Jobs

Employment & Jobs The growth of the Panamanian economy and labor market is a fact, and there are serious problems getting local talent to fill the vacancies being generated by the economic development. That is the general conclusion reached by the participants of the forum "Education: Pilar for the labor market," organized by Corporación La Prensa SA as part of the editorial "Education, priority: 1", sponsored by the La Prensa newspaper, to draw out the weaknesses and potential of the system from its genesis, as a contribution to the debate in which the country is immersed. "It takes passion, and for the Panamanian to see competitiveness. That Panama is the center of the world is a lie, the world is round, anywhere can be the center; we were lucky enough to grow but we need people to give us height, otherwise we will not grow; we need to continue strengthening education," said Carlos Urriola, general manager of Manzanillo International Terminal, one of the panelists.

Martin Alvarez, general manager of Dell, went along the same line. "Panama has been a victim of its own success." Alvarado acknowledged that his company has grown along with the country over the past eight years, generating thousands of jobs with service centers and many others with jobs that require a lot of expertise. They expect to create about 500 more jobs, Alvarez said, adding it is difficult to find talent to fill those vacancies.

Representatives of three companies who were invited to the forum agreed that part of the investment they make is focused on preparing employees and they were forced to move into training to tackle problems such as lack of a secondary language and / or specialized training. The problems we are facing now, they said, is that some employees, after being prepared, leave their companies to take a better deal.

Training in Values: There are other things important to the professional development of a person. That was the approach of Ivan Cohen, CEO of Do It Center, another panelist. "If a person was on the honor roll in mathematics, it is also important that the person has the values ​​to take care of a customer, that's the other side of education ... Education does not end when you leave school, it ends when you stop living," said Cohen. The businessman is concerned that education is not limited to 10 years in schools, the moral foundations a person takes at home is invaluable, and part of the problem is that not all parents are prepared to give that training: we need to educate parents so they know how to react, proposed Cohen.

Meanwhile, Juan Planells, director of Foundation for Economic and Social Development of Panama, which encourages and promotes the program United for Education, said he shares the opinion of the Minister of Education, Lucy Molinar, who said education should not be left totally as the responsibility of the government. "We are the envy of the other countries in the region; in the last 10 years we are the country with the fastest growing economy (6%), and growth this year will surpass 8%, which looks to be on the rise" explained Planells. The entrepreneur and former director of the National Institute of Vocational Training for Human Development also reflected on competition as being a good thing, and we should use this situation so that Panamanians learn how to overcome. In fact, he said when the Panama Canal was built only 1.2% of the workers were Panamanians, however, for the expansion of the waterway is currently running with more than 90% of the workforce Panamanian.

Planells also brought worrisome examples. He said that the results of students Panamanian students compared to those from other countries or neighboring countries is shameful, as evidenced by the most recent regional testing (PISA), in which the country was ranked 63, 64, and 65 out of the 65 countries that participated. "The results are frustrating," he said. (La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: When students talk about about a problem such as the shortage of a labor force due to an expanding economy that's creating more jobs than the population can fill, they stupidly always come back to education as the solution. No, having more babies 18 years ago would have been the solution but that didn't happen, so now we have to do something else. The Dell guy hit in on the head. They are forced to train people up, and once they are prepared and experienced they leave Dell to go get a better (higher paying) job somewhere else. Err, did you ever think of raising their salaries so they would stay at home? That's the other thing companies have to do - pay their educated and trained and experienced employees what that are worth. If not, they will go elsewhere. Multinationals move to Panama because of the cheap labor force. Panama has all kinds of other things working in its favor - if you want millions of cheap bodies go to India. Anyway, no matter what, education by itself will do little or nothing to fix the fundamental, underlying strategic problem of not enough dudes to do the work. Really, it won't. If you train a construction worker how to fix computers he will just go get a better paying job in an air conditioned office fixing computers. But his moving to the new and better paying job thanks to the improved education simply opened up a job t the construction site. So one dude is making more money but the construction work isn't getting done due to a simple lack of dudes. It's a zero sum game. I bet no one at this forum said "get more dudes" or "relax the restrictions on labor laws for immigrants" or "allow foreigners to work in Panama." That simply has to happen, and I've been predicting it for years. Sooner or later the market will simply demand these changes. It's unavoidable.

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