IPEL is an institute that provides training nationwide through conferences, workshops, seminars, and national and international congresses, developing labor-related topics, based on four thematic areas:
Occupational health and safety
Current developments in the social and labor areas
As part of its functions, it also carries out activities in the following areas:
o Cultural action for workers: It promotes the development and dissemination of workers’ artistic skills by organizing exhibitions traveling throughout the country and an annual competition with six categories: painting, crafts, sculpture, décima [a song in a poetic form originating from medieval Spain], storytelling, and poetry. It also organizes workshops for training and strengthening artistic skills, in coordination with the National Institute of Culture.
It has a group of workers forming the Workers’ Theatre cast, and it organizes theatre productions on topics of social and labor interest, as well as concerts.
o Adult education. It affords workers nationwide with incomplete basic education an opportunity to continue their studies based on an andragogical education approach, on a flexible schedule. By 2010, 10 new education centers had been established and enrolment had increased, with over 300 workers in all provinces.
o Higher education: To provide support to workers in their retraining and skill development processes for job placement, in conjunction with the Specialized University of the Americas, diploma, technical education, and bachelor’s degree programs have been developed on topics of social and labor interest. One outcome of this first pilot higher education program was 43 workers who earned bachelor’s degrees and 119 workers who graduated from career technical programs.
IPEL has two (2) departments:
1. Department of Instruction
2. Department of Social and Labor Research
Under Article 4 of Law 74 of 1973, the objectives of the Panamanian Institute of Labor Studies (IPEL) are training for labor union members and developing social and economic education for Panamanian workers and employers. To that end, it will implement the following activities:
• Training seminars, courses, conferences, and talks held for labor union members and workers at the national and international levels
• Establish a socioeconomic research section
• Provide financing for lawfully constituted civil society organizations for courses and seminars approved and authorized by the Labor Union Education Committee, subject to the corresponding budgetary allocations.
• Collaborate with other public institutions in developing worker education and training programs.
• Provide technical assistance to civil society organizations.
• Prepare publications of interest for labor-related studies and labor union training.
• Prepare and promote studies on labor-related subjects.
• Any other activities related to labor union training and labor-related studies.