What is Children International and how does the organization tackle the issue of youth employment?

Children International works with underprivileged children and youth in ten countries through support and services in health, education, youth empowerment and employability. Our Into Employment program combines life skills, job readiness skills and technical training with job placement assistance. Of particular note is our community center in the city of Copán Ruinas, Honduras. The nearby archeological ruins are a big tourist attraction that is complemented by hotels, restaurants and other services. Children International, in partnership with the Honduran and Swiss governments created a hospitality training facility at our community center in Copán Ruinas. Since 2012 over 230 youth have been trained for jobs in local hotels, restaurants and related businesses.

Through the same partnership in Copán Ruinas we created a small engine repair school to train local youth to repair motorcycles and other machines, opening opportunities for youth with different aptitudes.

Are you experiencing barriers in your implementation of workforce projects for youth (ages 15-35)?

Underprivileged youth face multiple barriers in completing their training and later landing a job. Our youth sometimes start school late due to poor access or lack of available space in the schools. The quality of instruction is often deficient and employers set increasingly high standards for a minimum level of education, even for entry-level jobs. Oftentimes, the demands of their households require them to stay in informal jobs with low pay, no social benefits or protections and no future. These young people in many cases also have to overcome the stigma associated with low-income neighborhoods and high crime rates.

What are some of the best practices or key lessons learned you have developed as a result of these barriers?  

In many cases a young person will need reinforcement in basic literacy and numeracy. Skills in basic computer operations are required for a lot of jobs and must be taught. Mostly, though, Children International as an organization works hard at building good relationships with local businesses, chambers of commerce and local government units. Raising our profile as a reliable partner in meeting human resource needs and reducing unemployment gives these young people a chance to at least compete for the jobs that offer some potential for them.

What has created your environment for successful implementation?

Program success largely results from paying consistent attention to program fundamentals. We conduct a rigorous selection process to ensure the youth are motivated and committed to completing the training and later entering the workforce. We involve the parents in the selection process as well as their support for their son or daughter is crucial. And we need to understand and align the interests of the business community with our training curriculum. This helps to ensure that the skills the youth acquire will be marketable.

What current tools or measures, if any, are you using to target youth in program implementation? How and where are these tools being used?

We select our trainees from the youth who have participated in other Children International programs. All of them are from low-income families and communities and we know them all from the above-mentioned programs.

Is this tool being used differently in developing vs developed countries?  

Children International’s employability programs operate only in developing countries.

Does your organization have an advocacy or communications platform that highlights youth unemployment challenges? (Please include links)

We highlight several of our youth and the challenges they have overcome on our website. Check out Melvin’s story of growing up in poverty in Honduras and how thanks to CI’s Into Employment program he is significantly increasing his family’s income as a barista.