FedEx-Commissioned Study Finds Private-Sector Support of Education Critical to Business Sustainability in Latin America


MIAMI, August 12, 2008 – Quality public education is vital to business sustainability and economic growth in Latin America, according to a study commissioned to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) by FedEx Express Latin America & Caribbean Division (FedEx Express LAC). The study, In search of business sustainability: Latin American education and the role of the private sector, reveals the crucial link between the private sector’s contributions to building human capital and stimulating economic growth.

“FedEx commissioned this study to further develop the dialogue around the private sector’s impact on education and spur the exchange of best practices,” says Juan N. Cento, President of FedEx Express LAC. “Increasingly, businesses recognize that an unskilled workforce impacts their bottom lines and ability to compete, making this a critical priority for the private sector.”

The study also found:

  • Investment in building human capital leads to dramatic economic growth, as demonstrated by the rapid progress of Singapore and South Korea.
  • Education impacts productivity. A company’s production line in Brazil -- where a 2006 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development study found that over 60 percent of 15-year-olds are functionally illiterate -- produces nine cell phones per hour, compared to 15 in its South Korean facility.
  • As executives recognize the importance of education to their businesses, they have shifted their thinking from financial contributions to broader education initiatives as part of their business sustainability strategy.

The EIU, which based the study on seven in-depth interviews, cites increasingly innovative approaches from the private sector that range from advocacy to direct involvement in the recruitment, training and management of teachers.

In Brazil, Everyone for Education (Todos pela Educacao), is composed of a group of wealthy industrialists who lobby for better education standards. “They organize media events where they hold the minister of education and state secretaries accountable for the results of the Brazilian education system,” said Dr. Alberto Rodriguez, a lead education researcher at the World Bank.

Rodriguez explained the private sector’s shift from philanthropy to advocacy and their interest in a more educated workforce. “They [Brazilian industrialists] ran these big companies, and they would say, ‘We have to serve the people in our community, we’re going to build them a great school.’ Then they realized that it was not enough; they had a problem, which was that they were now competing in a world economy and they just didn’t have the skills.”

“The FedEx PyMEx Membership Program, which provides small businesses and entrepreneurs with educational seminars on tapping into the global marketplace, is based on our understanding of the potential that education has on business sustainability. That’s why we commissioned the study - to take an even deeper look at effective approaches for improving education with the goal of supporting commercial and economic growth,” said Cento.

To downloaded the study

About FedEx Express

FedEx Express is the world’s largest express transportation company, providing fast and reliable delivery to more than 220 countries and territories. FedEx Express uses a global air-and-ground network to speed delivery of time-sensitive shipments, by a definite time and date with a money-back guarantee.

About FedEx Express Latin America and Caribbean

FedEx Express Latin America and Caribbean services more than 50 countries and territories and employs more than 3,400 people committed to total customer satisfaction. FedEx Express LAC has acted as a pillar of growth for the region and continues its commitment through the FedEx PyMEx Membership program, the first initiative to partner with small and medium exporters by offering innovative ways to access the global marketplace.