The Challenges of Tripartism in Vocational Training Development Strategies: The Case of Brazil

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 2:15 PM-3:45 PM
TW2.3.02 (Tower Two)
Moises Villamil Balestro, Universidade de Brasilia, Brasília, Brazil
The challenges of the tripartite governance have to be seen in relation to three interwoven aspects. The first one is the motivation to form tripartite arrangements in different contexts. The second aspect is the context of the coordination between unions, business associations and the state in the different institutional configurations of capitalism. The third aspect is more specifically related to the perception of the strategic actors about this governance, posing the limiting and enabling factors to its effectiveness.

The main content from the tripartite governance stems from the vocational training system. The vocational training system and how the strategic actors interact with it is key to understand the institutional configuration of capitalism. Vocational training institutions are embedded in a dense network of socio-economic institutions and policies such as colllective wage bargaining, corporate governance  and funding, market employment policies and welfare state (Busemeyer and Trampusch, 2012).

As Busemeyer and Trampusch (2012) remind us, the development and availability of skills is not a question of unconstrained rational choices, but are strongly constrained by the institutional context of the political economies, either historically or only in their present day. It is not a matter of an optimal choice, but of a system that needs ongoing support from relevant actors. Therefore, the variety in vocational training systems is, to a large extent, constrained by decisions made in the labour division between firms, business associations, unions and the state in the providing, funding and formation of skills (Busemeyer and Trampusch, 2012). For Martin (2012), variations within professional vocational systems reflect political disputes and critical junctures that are strongly influenced by strategies and state structures.

In this context, tripartite governance from strategic actors (employers, state and labour) provides the legitimacy for the government policies. Tripartite concertation arenas are collaborative mechanisms for a better coordination as a way to give more transparency to interest groups. Within the BRICs, Brazil is probably the country which has made more progress in the incorporation of workers in development. The country has three major triparite councils related to employment and industrial policies. These are the Deliberative Council for the Worker Support Fund (Conselho Deliberativo do Fundo de Amparo ao Trabalhador - CODEFAT), the Social and Economic Development Council (Conselho de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social - CDES) and the National Council of Industrial Development (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Industrial - CNDI). The latter two were created over the last decade.  

The paper is divided into three parts. The first part reviews the most recent literature on vocational training system as a sphere from the VoC and elements from a tripartite governance. Different vocational training systems are the result from different paths and disputes from labour, state and capital in the formation of workers skills regimes.

The third part presents qualitative and quantitative analysis from Brazilian tripartite governance and vocational training in Brazil and discusses the challenges and limits for the advancement for the tripartite governance in general and in vocational and training in particular. In order to analyze the Brazilian case, there is data from documentary research and indepth interviews carried out with members from Industrial Business Associations (CNI, FIESP, FIEMG and FIRJAN), members from the three most important Brazilian General Unions (CUT, Força Sindical and UGT) and representatives of the Ministry of Labour.

Between 2003 and 2011, there were more consistent initiatives in Vocational and Training in Brazil such as the National Training Plan (Plano Nacional de Qualificação - PNQ), the Territorial Training Plans (Planos Territoriais de Qualificação - PlanTeQs) and the Sectoral Training Plans (Planos Setoriais de Qualificação - PlanSeQs). It was an attempt to strengthen the tripartite governance in the vocational training system with closer ties to business associations. However, these plans design did not manage to catch the business attention in a consistent way. There were several bureaucratic barriers with much state control with too much paperwork for the agreements with state and municipal governments. 

Since 2011, the third moment has to do with the creation of the National Technological Training Program (PRONATEC). This vocational and training system program has a strong presence from business associations through partnership with the so-called S System (the vocational and training system belonging to the business associations from different industries since the 1940s). PRONATEC has also linkage with the industrial policy through participation in the debates and policy actions from Brasil Maior.  However, there is no tripartite mangement and the program is carried out by the Ministry of Education and not by the Ministry of Labour in which the unions have more political influence and has a tradition of tripartism with the CODEFAT. Despite having connections with the business associations, PRONATEC is rather statist and the participation of business is not officially enacted in the deliberative board. The mandate shift from the Ministry of Labour to the Ministry of Education may have had an influence in this sense. With PRONATEC, tripartism lost influence on the vocational training system and this precludes the possibility of a major achievement from tripartite governance in Brazil.

The main findings from the Brazilian tripartite challenges indicate the lack of more content for the tripartite concertation in the decision-making in the so-called active labour market policies and the incapacity from strategic actors to produce results able to make the concertation arena relevant, especially for the business interests. It is possible to notice that business participation in employment public policies is essentially defensive in relation to government or labour initiatives that can result into the rise of labour costs.  In the relationship between tripartite governance and the new developmental state, a greater labour and business organization commitment to vocational training can contribute to more inclusive growth and a slow, but persistent change in the Brazilian variety of capitalism. More participation in public policies related to economic development can produce an institutional complementarity between national development and societal neocorporatism. However, only by understanding the challenges and intricacies of tripartite governance in an emerging country, it is possible to make these normative claims come true.