Cuba's Highly Trained Workforce Beckons Foreign Investors

January 8, 2015 10:28 PM

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Alfonso Morre spent nine years studying applied mechanics and civil engineering. That training has come in handy in his job driving a taxi in Havana. Morre spends his days ferrying tourists around in a 26-year-old Russian-made Lada—and his spare time repairing the damage done to it by the city’s cobbled streets. He hopes President Obama’s recent decision to loosen restrictions on banking, travel, and trade with Cuba will create opportunities for the tens of thousands of university-educated Cubans like him trapped in low-skill jobs. “Once the U.S. trade opens up, companies will come here looking for engineers,” says Morre, 33. “Once the new cars and spare parts start coming in, you won’t need to be an engineer to run a taxi here.”

The Caribbean nation of 11.3 million has the best-educated workforce in Latin America—a distinction that may prove to be the Cuban Revolution’s most lasting legacy. In the early 1960s, Fidel Castro and his barbudos (bearded ones) dispatched brigades of teachers and college students to the countrysid...

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