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PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil – An online school specializing in e-commerce will offer courses in March to professionals and businesses in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Known as the Mercosur Virtual School, the initiative aims to create a network of professors culled from specialists and employees of internationally recognized institutions within Mercosur.
The goal is to strengthen the digital economy and exchange of expertise among the four countries that comprise the bloc, helping to reduce inequalities in access to e-commerce and use of information and communication technologies.
“We want to train high-level professionals, turning the Mercosur Virtual School into an effective knowledge management model,” says Marta Pessoa, the director of Mercosur Digital.
The Virtual School is an initiative of Mercosur Digital, a project achieved through international cooperation among the countries of the European Union and Mercosur.
Mercosur Digital’s headquarters is in the city of Rio de Janeiro, but there are professionals from every country in the bloc involved in the project.
First semester to offer 17 courses
During the first semester, the Virtual School will offer 17 courses, each with a capacity for 30 students. Registration is open on its website, www.escolavirtualmercosul.org.
One of the courses is “Best practices and generating confidence in Internet businesses,” which is expected to last six weeks and cost US$597.
The candidates will be chosen based on their professional and educational experience. All students selected for the first semester will receive full scholarships covering tuition.
In addition to empowering citizens, the school will serve micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses, research and teaching institutions, as well as private and public organizations, at the federal, state and municipal levels.
“This training will be provided to businesspeople interested in bringing their products and services to the worldwide web, and specialists who will be responsible for implementing the technology that will make that possible,” says Alejandro Fernández, the Argentina National Coordinator for the Mercosur Virtual School.
Mercosur countries: 66% of regional e-commerce
Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay account for 66% – about R$18 billion (US$10.45 billion) – of e-commerce sales in Latin America last year, Pessoa says.
Raising awareness of the importance of this issue among the decision makers of the involved countries is also one of the goals of the Virtual School, says Cynthia Delgado, coordinator of the initiative in Paraguay.
“Leaders in government need to understand the importance of incorporating new technological tools for the development of trade, as well as the importance of investing in human resource training,” Delgado adds.
Paraguay is strengthening its academic network for this project, through the acquisition of equipment and training of professionals.
“We are currently working on integrating institutions into this network, which makes the Virtual School possible,” Delgado adds.
The total investment in the Mercosur Digital project is US$12.6 million. The European Union contributed €7 million (US$9.2 million) in non-recoverable funds, and the four Mercosur countries contributed an additional US$3.4 million.