Improving the prospects of young people who stay in or return to their home country
Many young people in Central America leave their homeland in search of a better life. However, new opportunities are being created thanks to job training programmes in their own country.
Decades of unrest in Central America have left their mark. Around 40 per cent of young people in the region have no job and no access to a school or vocational education. The younger ones in particular believe they have no future there. Every year, over 100,000 unaccompanied children and young people head up through Mexico to the United States. Gaining a foothold there is difficult. Many experience violence and end up having to return. That presents a challenge for them and their country.
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is on the ground supporting children and young people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, it provides psychosocial support for returnees and helps them come to terms with experiences of violence. It also promotes access to school education and offers vocational training to improve the job prospects and therefore the outlook for young people. Ulises Velásquez is one of nearly 5,000 who have taken part so far in a training programme: ‘During my course, I learned to operate machines and tools,’ he says. ‘That’s how I managed to find a job as a craftsman.’
Practical focus on the labour market
To help young people find employment, they are trained in companies for jobs that are in demand on the local labour market. In El Salvador, for example, GIZ works with the supermarket chain Súper Selectos. Around 70 per cent of the young people involved in the programme are employed there once they complete their training. Clara Rodriguez works in the associated foundation: ‘The courses are adapted to meet the company’s requirements,’ she reports. ‘That helps the young people to find a job as soon as they finish.’
The project is being implemented in collaboration with the Central American Integration System (Secretaría General del Sistema de la Integración, SG-SICA). GIZ’s latest evaluation report contains a presentation about the project, which is now rolling out tried-and-tested approaches in other Central American countries. The biennial report will be published on 29 March and will include the results of over 200 project evaluations carried out in recent years.