Panama connects East to West, and North to South.
The Panama Canal puts Panama at the center of trade and commerce for all ocean traffic between the Atlantic and the Pacific. And Panama City has become a trade and financial center connecting North and South America, in fact the fastest growing financial center in Central America. Looking ahead, Panama is enlarging the size of the canal to accommodate today’s larger ocean going cargo ships.
Panama has benefitted enormously from the change in ownership of the canal from the United States to Panama, as now the transit fees go to Panama. The increased income and economic growth have enabled Panama to invest heavily on infrascructure and construction, both public and private. Everywhere you turn, you see new roads, housing, skyscraper office buildings, commercial and industrial space, new airports, and a new subway.
There are plenty of jobs available in the urban areas, but the big employment problem now is the lack of skilled workers. Large numbers of people are being left out of the economic boom because they lack the skills to secure the jobs available. This is especially true in the rural areas, so many of which are not participating in the growing prosperity in the cities. The gap between the rich and the poor is becoming wider and deeper.
Among other things, the Foundation is working in the rural villages of the Azuero peninsula to provide computer knowledge and training, as well as basic English skills and general confidence needed to enter today’s workforce.