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Federico Lozano, 2009 Social Innovation Fellow

Finding Jobs for Semi-Skilled Workers
Founder, Puentes Global

Many semi-skilled laborers in Latin America are unemployed or underemployed, working for meager wages of between $8 and $18 a day. Moreover, hundreds of Mexicans, in particular, die each year while illegally attempting to cross the U.S. desert in search of a viable livelihood.

Semi-skilled workers, stuck between the poorest of the poor and the middle class, account for some 70% of the Latin American population. They offer valuable skill sets that are in high demand at numerous companies around the world.

Puentes Global is a nonprofit organization that is working to alleviate poverty by connecting poor, semi-skilled laborers from the developing world with jobs in the developed world. Puentes Global has chosen to launch its efforts by finding jobs in Spain for Mexican workers such as industrial machine operators, welders, elevator repairmen, sheet metal laborers, and electrical linemen.

Puentes Global will leverage labor laws in Spain that welcome specific international workers, as well as demand on the part of Spanish companies for low-cost labor, and the Spanish government’s urgent need to increase the country’s worker base amid demographic and cost pressures. It will simultaneously serve the vast supply of poor yet skilled workers in Mexico and address the wish of the Mexican government to increase remittance flows, which represent the second-largest revenue source for the country.