The rapid growth of the free trade zone industry has created a steady demand for labor and thus an increase of employment rates in the regions where these industrial complexes are located, which eventually translates into a stimulus for the country’s economy.

The state that contributes the most to the generation of jobs in the country’s Free Zones is Cundinamarca, as it currently has 31,000 direct jobs, followed by Cauca, with 7,437, and third is Bolivar, with 5,935. In total, taking into account indirect employment rates, free zones reported more than 220,000 jobs across the country.

Colombia now has 102 free zones, 60% are special and 40% multiuser parks. In addition, there are over 1,300 companies that promote productive links with local industry and have invested more than $ 28 billion.

However, according to Edgar Martinez, director of the Cámara de Usuarios de Zonas Francas de la Asociación Nacional de Empresario de Colombia –ANDI-, “Free trade zones have found that the level of training and preparedness of the workforce is weak to respond to the needs of the industries. The level of education and technologists in the regions is low and therefore we’ve been working with entities such as SENA and other educational institutions to create technical programs in line with the demand of the industries.”

This initiative was promoted by the same companies in their quest to provide optimal training for all its employees. For example, a case in point is the training program developed by the Zona Franca de Occidente, in partnership with CESVI Colombia (Centro de Experimentación y Seguridad Vial Colombia S.A).