On 19 April, SOS Children’s Villages launched the two youth employability initiatives YouthCan! and YouthLinks for the Latin American region in San José, Costa Rica. The initiatives aim to support young people in developing the necessary professional and personal skills to find decent work and become independent.
Joblessness is a widespread problem for young people in Latin America and the Caribbean, where the youth unemployment rate exceeded 18% in 2016, according to the International Labour Organization. Young people are also disproportionately affected by informal employment, which bears the risk of inadequate working conditions and social protection.
“YouthCan! and YouthLinks will allow us to strengthen our youth employability programme, which has already reached over 600 hundred young people in our country . It will also create a stronger network of alliances than we already have and allow us to reach even more young people”, said Jessica Fallas, Costa Rica’s Youth Employability Programme Director.
Two initiatives to empower young people
YouthCan!, the global partnership for young employability, builds on a strong alliance between non-governmental organisations, the private sector, governments and the commitment of young people eager to advance in life.
It offers a range of skill-building opportunities to young people ranging from hands-on experience in a real working environment at one of SOS Children’s Villages’ partners, access to role models and mentors, entrepreneurship training and skills sharing.
“For us these kinds of initiatives are also a great source of experiences, said Carla Carrillo, DHL Express General Manager, at the launch event. “We are taking care of somebody and we have to make sure they never feel alone in the company. There’s always a team around them, a supervisor and that makes us grow also in the kind of leadership we want to have.”
SOS Children’s Villages and DHL Deutsche Post Group have been working together to empower over 9,000 young people in 26 countries through the GoTeach partnership since 2011.
YouthLinks is a digital platform using mobile technology to connect young people with mentors all over the country and region, allowing them to share content and tools, and providing access to guidance and orientation to better prepare for the job market.
Building on successful experience in Costa Rica
In Costa Rica, SOS Children’s Villages has been working with young people to help them prepare for the workplace since 2013.
In a country where almost 99,000 young people were unemployed in 2016, supporting young people in their transition to independence and sustainability is an urgent priority. Young people without work make up 45% of the entire unemployed population in the country.
“It is not true that they don’t work or study because they want to live this way. Many of them are part of that group for lack of opportunities”, said Natalia Camacho, Executive Director of Costa Rica’s Young People's Council.
Diego Guisao, one of the graduates, who has continued to work for DHL Deutsche Post Group after the programme, encouraged other young people to seize the opportunities that initiatives such as YouthCan! offer.
“Never give up. Every help you can get from others is important and you have to embrace it. One opportunity, if you leverage it, might be enough”, he said in his message to other young people at the launch event.
“Diego is an inspiration”, said Mercedes Peñas, Costa Rica’s First Lady. Addressing the young participants in the audience, she underscored the encouragement for young people, especially young women, to take advantage of opportunities presented to them in order as they can help be successful in life.
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