IDB Lab Invests in Colombian startup to teach English to manual workers

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WASHINGTON, COLOMBIA – IDB Lab, the innovation laboratory of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), will provide financial support to Slang, the Colombian educational technology startup that is based on machine learning and artificial intelligence, to teach English to manual workers. This investment, worth $1 million, will support students entering the labor market, provide job training, and present opportunities for youth, blue-collar workers, and the unemployed populations of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Professionals who speak English have greater employment options and can earn more income. However, three out of four young people in our region say they do not speak it fluently, according to the results of the Milenials survey conducted by the IDB. This especially, affects those who cannot afford high-level English courses, due to the high cost, which limits their career options, and therefore, their economic mobility.

In Colombia, the number of young people who neither work nor study, amounts to more than 580,000 and are concentrated in the main cities of the country such as Bogotá, Medellín, or Cali. Many of them have little work experience, low levels of education, and have not developed many of the skills necessary to integrate into the workforce, including knowing how to speak English.

IDB Lab’s investment will allow the Slang platform to expand to other countries in the region and offer practical and low-cost courses specifically targeting workers who perform manual labor. Its methodology, based on machine-learning, facilitates a personalized and specialized English learning process for workers in eight sectors: financial services, consumer goods, transport and logistics, education, technology and design, manufacturing, health care, and the pharmaceutical industry, offering specialized courses on roles within these sectors and on topics consistent with each area of interest.

The platform is centralized in the LAC market and currently has more than 70 institutional clients from countries such as Colombia, Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Mexico, and Brazil, among others.

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