Livelihood options for poor urban youth
According to the International Labour Organization, over 70 million young people worldwide are unemployed. This issue is particularly prevalent in the Global South, where youth are twice as likely to be unemployed or trapped in low-quality jobs, limiting development and social mobility. Governments and NGOs have responded with educational initiatives, skills-training projects, confidence-building programs, and a fund to encourage entrepreneurship.
Luchando contra el desempleo juvenil mediante programas de formación
Jorge Bela, Gestor Comunitario de Cali
El desempleo juvenil es un problema especialmente grave en Cali. Las tasas de acercan al 33 por ciento, la más alta de las principales ciudades del país (la media nacional en este sector demográfico es del 17 por ciento). Si bien es cierto que la tasa general de desempleo en la capital del Cauca es también superior a la nacional (13 por ciento frente al 9 por ciento), los jóvenes caleños sufren este problema de forma desproporcionada. Aunque las causas del desempleo son complejas, cabe destacar un periodo de recesión económica que duró 10 años, de 1995 a 2005, que coincidió con la llegada de fuertes flujos migratorios. Aunque a partir de 2006 la economía ha crecido, no lo ha hecho en tasas suficientes para absorber la bolsa de desempleo y los nuevos flujos migratorios. La falta de cualificación para los nuevos trabajos que van surgiendo es otra barrera para que los jóvenes obtengan empleo.
Para mitigar este grave problema, existen varias iniciativas tanto públicas como privadas destinadas a mejorar la preparación de los jóvenes. Jóvenes en Acción, un programa de ámbito nacional, prestará asistencia financiera para que puedan completar estudios a unos 4 000 jóvenes caleños. La formación debe ser en carreras técnicas o tecnológicas, aunque también se cubren cursos de capacitación y emprendimiento. El programa está destinado a jóvenes entre 16 y 24 años, que hayan culminado el bachillerato, y que pertenezcan a la Red Unidos, sean víctimas del conflicto armado y/o desplazamiento o beneficiarios de Familias en Acción (Red Unidos y Familias en Acción son programas destinados a ayudar a familias en situación de pobreza). La ayuda económica consiste en un estipendio bimensual de 200.000 COP (unos 100 US$), y se les exige estar bancarizados, algo que también redunda positivamente en su integración en el mercado de trabajo.
Otra iniciativa interesante es el Centro de Desarrollo Productivo, impulsado por la Fundación Carvajal y cofinanciado por algunos aliados tanto internacionales como locales. Esta iniciativa busca formar en oficios tradicionales a jóvenes en los estratos económicos mas bajos y/o en riesgo de exclusión social. En el año 2012 2,727 jóvenes, tanto de Cali como de zonas rurales del Valle del Cauca, recibieron formación como técnicos en el sector alimentario. Es importante que los programas no se circunscriban al término municipal de Cali, pues mejorando la situación de empleo en las zonas rurales próximas se previenen los movimientos migratorios que a su vez fomentan el crecimiento desordenado de la ciudad.
Los programas formativos, buscan mejorar la capacidad de los alumnos de generar ingresos y mejorar la competitividad de sus microempresas. A los microempresarios se les ofrece también formación en técnicas gerenciales y de la normativa a aplicar en el sector alimentario. En 2011 se implementaron ocho nuevos cursos de formación técnica en diferentes oficios (electricidad básica, confecciones, carpintería de aluminio, soldadura, impulsadoras y mercadeo, call center, sistemas básicos, arreglo de computadores y celulares). Cabe destacar que los cursos son impartidos en colaboración con el Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje, una entidad pública. Sin duda la colaboración público-privada resulta imprescindible a la hora de resolver los problemas del desempleo.
Fighting youth unemployment with training
Jorge Bela, Cali Community Manager
Youth unemployment (for youths 16-24 years of age) is a particularly severe problem in Cali. The rate is 33 percent, the highest in big Colombian cities (the average national rate hovers around 18 percent). Even though the global unemployment rate in Cali is also higher than the national average (13 percent versus 9 percent), young caleños suffer disproportionately more than older age groups. The causes behind this problem are complex, but it was certainly aggravated by a 10-year recession (from 1995 to 2005), precisely at the time when immigration flows were very strong. Even though the economy resumed growth in 2006, it was not at a sufficient rate to reduce the large number of unemployed, or to absorb the continual arrival of immigrants. The lack of necessary qualifications and skills also poses a barrier for young job seekers, especially for the poorest ones.
Several initiatives, both in the public and private sectors, work to give poor youth the necessary training to improve their chances of finding a job in the emerging sectors. Jóvenes en Acción (Youth in Action) is a national program that provides 4,000 young caleños with financial resources to pursue a technical or technological degree. The program also includes entrepreneurship courses. Jóvenes en Acción is opened to students 16-24 years old who have completed their secondary education. They also have to either belong to the Red Unidos or Familias en Acción programs (which provide assistance to poor families), or be desplazados (forced to leave their hometowns due to threats or violence), or be victims of armed conflict. The students get a bi-monthly stipend of 200,000COP (about US$100). They must also have a bank account in order to collect the stipend.
In the private sector, the Fundación Carvajal's Centro de Desarrollo Productivo (Production Development Center) trains young caleños in the skills needed for the food sector. The project is co-financed by the Foundation and an alliance of local and international donors. It benefits youths in the three lower economic strata (1, 2 and 3), and those at risk of violence or social exclusion. In 2012, 2,727 students from Cali and nearby rural areas participated in the program. The inclusion of students from rural areas is very important, as improving the employment situation in those areas reduces the immigration flows into Cali, which in turn helps to reduce the uncontrolled growth that plagues not only Cali, but all major cities in Colombia.
The training programs at the Centro de Desarrollo Productivo seek to improve the earning capacity of its students and to make their micro-business more competitive. Micro-entrepreneurs also receive training in management skills and in the fairly complex regulatory framework of the food sector. In 2011 eight new courses were launched, providing technical training in new areas such as basic electricity, call centers, aluminum work, welding, computer and cell-phone repair, etc. The training is done in cooperation with the public Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (National Learning Service). Cooperation between the public and private sectors is necessary to improve the conditions for the many young and unemployed in Cali.
Photo credit: SENA
Uwezo Fund aims to nudge Kenyan youth towards entrepreneurship and self-employment
Katy Fentress, Nairobi Community Manager
In September this year the Kenyan government launched the Uwezo Fund, a 6 billion Ksh. cash reserve (approximately $70 million) aimed at channeling financial resources into the hands of youth and women.
Money for the fund was obtained from capital set aside by the Jubilee Coalition during this year's election campaign, for use in the case of a run-off. The Jubilee Coalition, led by Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy Samuel Ruto, pledged that any money that was not spent on the campaign would be channeled into a fund of this sort. Six months after winning the election, they stood by their commitment and announced that the application process for accessing interest-free loans was now open to registered youth and women's groups.
The aim of the Uwezo fund is to address the massive unemployment problem that affects the country, by encouraging entrepreneurship and expanding access to credit. The idea is to generate opportunities for self-employment and to enhance economic growth by investing in community-driven alternative frameworks to development and focusing on youth/women's groups and savings chamas as drivers of the country's economy.
In order to be considered, groups must apply from within the constituency they would like to operate from, hold a bank account in their name, and have written recommendations from a District Chief, and they must have been registered with the Department of Social Services for at least six months prior to application.
The government has set up the Uwezo Capacity Building Program, a training course that applicants are required to attend before they even apply for the loan. This is to ensure that the groups have the ability to invest well and eventually pay back the loans. Once the training has been completed, groups can apply for an amount that ranges from 50,000 Ksh. to 500,000 Ksh (approximately $580 to $5,800), which must be begin to be repaid after six months and subsequently over the course of two years.
The Uwezo fund is being overseen by the Ministry of Devolution and Planning. One of the central tenets of the new Constitution that was passed in 2010 was that administrative power would be decentralized to the counties of the country's provinces. The result of this is that county MPs are in part responsible for the allocation of Uwezo funds, an aspect that has led some people to fear that the wealth may be misused if not subjected to tight scrutiny. In the past, similar programs like the Youth Fund and Kazi kwa Vijana (Work for the Youth) — both flagship projects of the previous government — did not always achieve their intended purposes and, more often than not, ended up lining the pockets of those who were charged with implementing the schemes. In order to minimize this eventuality, the government has announced that it is setting up a committee that will be in charge of overseeing how the money is spent.
So far, it is too early to tell to what extent the fund will effectively create employment for Kenya's youth. The President has high hopes that it will be successful, and the Deputy's wife has been touring the country to raise its profile and encourage people to apply. In the meantime the rest of us can only wait, watch — and, if eligible, apply!
Building confidence, not just skills
Carlin Carr, Bangalore Community Manager
India and China have been saddled side by side in the race for rising economic superpowers. While China has edged ahead on many fronts, India's large youth population provides a massive potential. "An estimated 1-1.2 million new workers will join the labor market in South Asia every month over the next few decades — an increase of 25-50% over the historical average," says a World Bank report. Job creation needs to match this upcoming labor force. A new government initiative in India, the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC), has prioritized providing this generation with the necessary education and training so the country can reap the benefits of its demographic dividend.
While many initiatives have been launched under the NSDC, focusing on building a range of technical and artisanal capacities, an organization in Bangalore focuses on skill-building alongside "potential realization" initiatives. The Promise Foundation's research has found that while lack of skills is a major factor that contributes to underemployment or lack of employment with youth, so too does their confidence in their own abilities and job prospects. The organization's unique method applies behavioral sciences to economic and social development.
The Promise Foundation believes that early intervention is necessary, and has developed three core programs to foster personal and professional growth from a young age:
- Stimulation Intervention Programs focus on early childhood care and education for children deprived of quality experiences for social, emotional and cognitive development.
- Programs for Assisted Learning is an accelerated learning program targeting children who are at risk of failing and dropping out of school.
- Work Awareness and You addresses the career development needs of high schoolers and helps them find answers to questions of planning for fruitful employment in the future.
The three-pronged approach to preparing youth for the job market takes a more holistic and long-term perspective on the need to develop human resources for India. In a recent training in Bangalore, youth in attendance were taught core work attitudes (punctuality, reliability, safety, etc.) and were also part of a program to increase their skills. "Almost all trainees were able to secure better jobs and went on to complete formal education," says the organization.
The future remains to be seen. Skills training has become a government priority in the country, with a substantial budget allocation and a new uniform curricula for the various skills training initiatives under the NSDC. Yet as the Promise Foundation's research has shown, there's much more to developing human resources than just skills, and only when those issues are addressed will this generation's potential be fully unleashed.
Photo: One Laptop per Child
Mais atenção para os "Nem-Nem": jovens que nem estudam, nem trabalham
Catalina Gomez, Coordenadora da Rede em Rio de Janeiro
Os "Nem-Nem" são jovens entre 15 e 24 anos que nem estudam, nem trabalham, nem procuram emprego. Segundo dados do último censo, Brasil tem mais de 5 milhões de "Nem- Nem" no seu território, com grande concentração nas áreas urbanas. Rio atualmente tem mais de 150 mil "Nem-Nem"; preocupa que aquela população cresceu em 30 mil entre 2000 e 2010. Quais são as causas deste fenômeno? E quais são as respostas da cidade para enfrentar aquela situação?
Uma causa do fenômeno "Nem-Nem" é a desigualdade e a pobreza. A grande maioria da população carente urbana não tem oportunidade de receber educação de qualidade e porem fica desmotivada e descomprometida dos estudos. Não surpreende que as maiores taxas de abandono escolar sejam entre as populações de baixa renda.
Outro assunto relevante com implicações de gênero e igualdade, são as altas taxas de gravidez adolescente. Muitas das jovens que ficam grávidas interrompem os estudos e a procura de emprego por em quanto cuidam dos filhos. Mais o maior problema, além das implicações da maternidade adolescente, são as consequências negativas da falta de treinamento e experiência na procura de emprego, ficando cada vez mais complicada sua integração no mercado de trabalho.
Algumas das soluções têm sido propostas pela Secretaria Municipal de Educação, que esta ativamente no processo de melhora da qualidade da educação fundamental e segundaria, tentando priorizar as áreas de maior concentração de pobreza e vulnerabilidade. Algumas das ações de melhora da qualidade educativa têm a ver com a melhora dos quadros de professores e das sessões educativas com foco na aprendizagem e as aulas práticas. As Escolas do Amanhã, que tem sido destacadas no URB.im também contribuem na melhora da qualidade da educação nas áreas carentes e violentas da cidade.
Outra resposta importante, especialmente relacionada com aqueles adolescentes com filhos que ainda estudam o procuram emprego, é o aumento da cobertura de creches públicas para crianças de 0-3 anos, que passou de 7 por cento para 21 por cento entre 2000 e 2011. Este é um aumento significativo, mais ainda é preciso um esforço muito maior.
Nas escolas públicas, também existem esforços na melhora da educação sexual, incluindo mais troca de informação entre os jovens e mais dialogo aberto e guia profissional. Embora estes esforços, ainda é preciso ampliar as campanhas educativas e saúde pública para atender as jovens vulnerais e evitar que as meninas vulneráveis sejam a nova geração de "Nem-Nem".
Foto: Secretaria Municipal de Educação de Rio de Janeiro
Greater attention to the "NEETs": youth who are not in employment, education or training
Catalina Gomez, Rio de Janeiro Community Manager
A "NEET" is a youth between ages 15 to 24 who does not study and does not work. According to the latest Brazilian census, there are more than 5 million "NEETs" throughout the country, mainly concentrated in urban areas. In Rio alone, there are more than 150,000, and the number is rising: between 2000 and 2010, there were more than 30,000 new "NEETs." What are the causes of this phenomenon and what is the city doing to respond to this situation?
Two important causes of the "NEET" phenomenon are inequality and poverty. Many poor urban youth have access only to low-quality education that doesn't engage or motivate them. It therefore isn't surprising that the great majority of school dropouts are among the poorest population.
Another relevant issue that has enormous implications for gender inequality is the high pregnancy rates among teenagers, which is one of the leading causes of adolescent girl school dropouts. Many of these girls don't study or work while they take care of their babies. Beyond the effects of adolescent parenthood, the problem with these adolescent mothers is that after caring for their babies, they become part of the "trapped" population that doesn't have the skills or work experience required to find a job.
Solutions to these issues have been addressed by the Municipal Secretariat of Education, which is actively engaged in improving the quality of basic and secondary education, targeting the most vulnerable areas. Some of the main initiatives to improve education include the improvement of teaching quality, with greater focus on practical courses where students can learn skills and apply their knowledge. The Secretariat has also implemented the Schools of Tomorrow program (previously covered by URB.IM), which aims to improve education in the poor and violent areas of the city.
Beyond the support provided by public schools, the city promotes courses for youth and adults who have temporarily left the path of education, but want to continue their studies. These courses take place throughout the city, are free of charge, and offer flexible schedules and specialized mentorship, so that students can complete their basic education cycles.
Another important response, especially for the adolescent parents who are still studying or looking for a job, is the increased access to public child care for 0-to-3-year-olds: coverage went from 7 percent of children in 2000 to 21 percent in 2011. This in a significant improvement, but it is still insufficient to meet the great demand. In public schools there are also efforts regarding sexual education, which includes greater peer exchange, open dialogue, and guidance.
However, greater joint public health and educational campaigns are required to prevent vulnerable girls from becoming the next generation of youth that are trapped, not working, and not studying.
Photo credit: Municipal Secretariat of Education, Rio de Janeiro