September 21, 2017

Youth Pathways Central America

Diseño sin título

This week, Marco Tulio SJ, the Executive Secretary of the International Federation of Fe y Alegría and member of the Friends of Fe y Alegría in the U.S. team, had the opportunity to participate in a Latin American delegation visiting Youth Build projects in the United States.  Members of the group had the opportunity to share lessons learned, challenges and successes as members of organizations that are working together with at-risk youth to promote employment opportunities through the program “Youth Pathways Central America (YPCA)”.

Youth Pathways  is a binational project in Honduras and El Salvador implemented by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in partnership with Fe y Alegría and Glasswing International with funding from the United States Department of Labor. The goal of the project is to improve the livelihoods of at-risk youth so as to prevent their entry into the worst forms of child labor, hazardous or exploitative work, particularly those linked with criminal activities or illicit groups. To this end, the goal is to increase the participation of children and youth in formal/non-formal education, and to advance employment or self-employment opportunities for them in the future.

The project is made up of three elements: 

  1. Career Connect Clubs.

This is a model implemented by Glasswing International focused on school-age children and young people, aged 14 to 17 years. It involves training processes using participatory methodology developed within the Educational Centers in the project implementation area. The trainings are complementary to their formal studies and are oriented toward different themes: art, sports, music, leadership, communication, robotics, among others. In addition, visits are made to businesses and educational institutions to expand the vision of the future of young people and connect schools with the world of work. Through this process, students’ motivation to continue in the educational system increases as well as their willingness to invest their free time in extracurricular activities.

  1. YouthBuild Program

YouthBuild is a program of integral work with at-risk youth promoted by YouthBuild International and adapted to the Latin American context by Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The training process is aimed at supporting young people between the ages of 16 and 20, who are residents of the project implementation areas and who do not have formal jobs or who are currently outside of the education system. The program offers comprehensive training in seven areas: education, community service, life skills, entrepreneurship and savings and loan groups, vocational technical training and leadership, the latter is a cross-cutting element incorporated throughout the training.

Through these interventions, young people develop personal and academic skills that help to narrow the gap in order to find jobs; and provide young people with the ability to combine the option of generating livelihoods through employment or entrepreneurship and continue their education so that they can better cope with the labor market constraints and the context of social violence they face.

  1. Community Youth Connect Centers

The objective of this component is that children, youth and their families benefit from comprehensive protection, support and accompaniment services. Psychosocial care is provided to the participants and their families in situations of special vulnerability. The successful methodology of Strong Families from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is also incorporated, which aims to strengthen communication, relationship and family support skills.

In addition, the Youth Pathways Central America project collaborates with the private and public sectors to assess labor market training needs, the availability of technical and vocational training that fits these needs, strengthening access to programs and opportunities for young people and to achieve better and more accessible employability services.

The project aims to directly serve at least 7,000 people, including young people and families through different service strategies, over a period of approximately three years, between 2016 and 2019. Particular attention is paid to children and youth who have returned to their home country after having tried to migrate to the United States or other countries.

Implementation areas have been identified as those communities with a high level of criminal activity or the presence of illicit groups. In these areas, the services are provided through training centers, community centers or schools. This comprehensive approach strengthens the prevention of young people entering the worst forms of child labor or dangerous and exploitative work, increasing the youth employability; ensuring their job insertion and retention through employment or self-employment; or encouraging them to continue their education in the educational system.