During the first period of ILPES, educational programs were focused on training specialized personnel in economic and social development planning for the region, in the fields of global, agricultural, industrial, public sector, and budgetary planning, among others. The main objective of the programme was to train planners to be capable of leading complex technical and institutional processes and to later transform these processes into systems that would effectively contribute to improving and guiding economic and social development policy decisions. During this phase of ILPES, training was oriented towards the preparation of Latin American professionals in the theoretical and practical aspects of the planning process as well as in the analysis of economic and social development problems, together with the necessary research and applied methods for implementation and analytics.
The Basic Course (the name of the ILPES core planning course) formed the nucleus of all other training activities (intensive courses on development and planning problems, specialized courses on specific topics, and collaboration with universities). The aim of the Basic Course was to combine the analysis of the development process with the study of planning techniques, at both a theoretical level and in terms of practical tools for situational diagnostics, the formulation of projections and programmes, and the elaboration of public policy. The Basic Course was structured during its nine-month duration in such a way as to form a planner with comprehensive skills and a broad conceptual and instrumental knowledge of planning techniques, who could analyse concrete Latin American and economic policy development problems, interpret and form an opinion about sectoral plans, guide and discuss the formulation and evaluation of specific projects, and be able to address the challenges imposed by the economic cycle through strategic policy alternatives.
Source: CEPAL. ILPES (1962). Prospecto del Curso Básico para el período 1962/63. (INST/7 (CAP/1))
Concern for the social aspects of development led the Institute to develop a second type of (special) course, which covered health planning (in collaboration with the Pan American Sanitary Bureau between 1962 and 1970), housing, education (in collaboration with UNESCO between 1962 and 1967), and human resources, among others.
During the following two decades, the Institute continued to offer the Basic Course in development planning, making the modifications and additions that changes in economic and social realities required, and through the integration of the training program with the Institute's research and advisory work. ILPES had accumulated a wealth of experience in many fields of planning in almost all the countries of the region, which it placed at the service of the training program for planners. The close interchange between technical assistance, research and training provided a constant source of nourishment for the Institute's activities and is a feature of ILPES to this day. In the initial period, it provided a fertile and significant foundation within the ECLAC and ILPES school of thought that contributed to the integration of many of the materials and methodologies developed by ILPES into the training programs of Latin American universities.
An important change in the basic planning course during this first period was to shift the methodology from classroom lectures to more reading content, roundtable discussions and the completion of case studies by the participants, together with specialists from different ECLAC divisions and ILPES. Also, at a substantive level, to recognize the importance of reconciling long-term and short-term economic planning and policy.
At the beginning of the seventies, the courses on regional development planning began, aimed at meeting a new type of demand originating in the interest of countries to face their economic and social problems through regional analysis and the organization of the economic space. These courses were proposed to establish a conceptual basis for the discussion and clarification of the main theoretical or practical problems encountered by Latin American countries in the different stages of regional development planning.
In fact, between 1974 and 1977, the two core courses of ILPES were called Regional Development Planning and the Basic Course on Economic Planning and Policy (both 6 to 7 months courses).