Mexico City - President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador promised $7.5 billion for youth job training and aid to the elderly last Wednesday, keystone programs that could make Mexico's business sector one of the biggest beneficiaries of his first year in office.
Lopez Obrador pledged the government would pay the salaries of apprentices employed by Mexican companies as part of a $5 billion package of scholarships and job training. The once-fiery leftist met with Mexican businessmen on Wednesday in a surprisingly chummy encounter where he sealed the job-training deal in a handshake with business chamber leader Juan Pablo Castanon.
The programs for the elderly and youths will be the cornerstones of Lopez Obrador's first year in office, which starts when he takes office December 1.
"We will have to come up with this funding ... even if we are left without a shirt on our backs," Lopez Obrador vowed. The president-elect - whose victory must still be certified by electoral authorities and the courts - implied that most of his other campaign promises will be left to later years in office. Lopez Obrador was elected in a landslide on July 1.
Lopez Obrador pledged $2 billion to extend and increase old-age supplementary payments to the elderly so that every Mexican over 68 will receive at least the equivalent of $2.25 USD per day.
The elderly payments initially started in Mexico City when Lopez Obrador was mayor in the early 2000s, but he has now pledged to fund them at the same level as in the capital - currently about $60 per month - nationwide.
But the youth program appeared to be a big gift to the business sector: Companies will get much of the $5 billion to pay salaries to youths; the remainder will apparently go to technical colleges and universities or to scholarships.
The firms will give their apprentices certificates of competence, but apparently won't be required to hire them after their apprenticeships.
The program is aimed at reducing the number of unemployed youths recruited by drug cartels, or as Lopez Obrador put it in a campaign slogan "Students on scholarships, not cartel hit men."
Juan Pardinas, director of the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, said plans for apprenticeship programs already exist in the private sector, but it is important that the government is getting on board. The opportunity of a paid apprenticeship could keep many young people from beginning to work in the informal economy as they do now and hopefully set them on a path for better earnings.Read the full article at seattletimes.com.