July 14 2017

Investing in youth employability creates impact for families

Training and employment are key to increasing young people’s prospects for independence and stability in life. For Diego Guisao, joining SOS Children’s Villages’ youth employability programme opened up new opportunities.

Diego Guisao was 15-years-old when he told himself that it was time to change. Until then, he had lived a troubled life. He was born in Colombia, but when he was five-years-old his mother moved to Costa Rica to find work, leaving him with her family in Colombia.

At the age of eight, he tried alcohol for the first time. At eleven he had already decided to leave school to have more time to be with his friends.

“I was on my way to becoming one of the kids from the block,” Diego recalls.

By the time he was 12, his mother decided to take him and one of his brothers to Costa Rica. 
Certain things did not change even though he was in a new country. Diego started to make new friends, but he soon fell back into old patterns – drinking, skipping school and rebelling against his mother.  

Professional support and counselling

His mother eventually decided to invite him to join the Rahab Foundation, a Costa Rican non-governmental organisation. The organisation had supported his mother during difficult times in her own life.

“At first I did not want to go there, but the people at the foundation started to help me. For example, they assisted when I was doing my homework, something that in my house had never happened. The foundation also gave me school materials and bus tickets because my mother could not afford these things. It was them who began to explain to me what was good and bad, what creates better family bonds and what doesn’t.”

Diego finished school and learned important skills such as how to carry out a job interview and how to interact or dress in such settings.

Enhancing employability increases long-term chances

Diego began to see new opportunities arise.
“I was 20 years old, had finished school and it was time to look for a job or to continue studying. At that time my counsellor suggested the possibility to participate in the employability programme of SOS Children’s Villages, where I would do three months of internship and then have the opportunity to stay,” he recalls.

SOS Children’s Villages Costa Rica initiated the youth employability programme in 2013 in response to the alarming youth unemployment rates in a country where 45% of young people are jobless.

In the programme, SOS Children's Villages Costa works with other organisations and partners to reach out to young people in need of support to help them on their way to independence and decent work.

From hands-on training to employment

Diego was able to start working at DHL Express, one of SOS Children’s Villages corporate partners, and get valuable hands-on work experience.

“I had a meeting with Fabian, a DHL Human Resources colleague, who explained to me that I was going to work in one area of the company for three months. But if it did not work out there, I could have another three months in another area and, at the end, I was going to receive a letter of recommendation. I told him, with a lot of respect, that a letter was very good, but that I was there to work hard and to get a permanent job,” says Diego.

In April 2016 he started his career in customer service. Six months later, Diego was still there, always in contact with co-workers from SOS Children's Villages who offered support, whenever needed.

When the employability programme was over, Diego wanted to continue in his job. He was offered a full-time position at the DHL Express.

"There were a lot of tears because I struggled a lot to reach this. But I did it. I now come home with an income and can help my mother and my brother at home," Diego says.

In 2016, SOS Children’s Villages launched the global YouthCan! initiative to join forces with partners to support youth employability in various countries around the world.

More about YouthCan!:

YouthCan! - Launching the new global partnership for youth employability  

Enhancing youth employability in Latin America