Youth is a time that should be filled with hope as well as promise for future. For many others in region reality is different. There are about 108 million young people among ages of 15 and 24 in Latin America and in Caribbean. As a new report by International Labour Organization economic growth in region has not been strong enough to improve outlook for young people trapped by lack of employment.
Of all unemployed persons in region 40% are young. Joblessness is highest between young women also poorest members of population. Most of those who are working are in jobs along with earnings of less than $1 a day and re is little opportunity to progress. Ultimately, one in five young people are not even looking for work because y are discouraged and have given-up. Consequently what can y do?
Young men can join a gang also young women can join legion of teenage single mothers or end up spending ir time on household tasks rather than looking for work.
Implications for present and future generations of young people are dramatic. Observers suggest that if trends are not reversed, re is a danger of creating a "lost generation". This has huge penalty for society such as reduced levels of security and increased conflict, which in turn will create a destabilized economic, social and political context. News from Venezuela dominates front pages and it takes little to imagine what would happen if Latin America were to follow course of Middle East.
Plan believes that every young person has right to fulfil their potential and receive support for their transition into work that affords m dignity, security and a path out of poverty. With keeping this in mind Plan El Salvador developed a YEE (Youth Economic Empowerment) programme for disadvantaged youth especially for girls. It works in rural communities and works in close coordination with national and local governments. It proposes life skills also pre-employment screening, combined with training and job placement.
Plan works with corporate sector to ensure that vocational training is linked to market demand. A local organization offers business training and support for local finance institutions and enterprise development offer access to financial services to support more entrepreneurial youth. And ultimately follow with youth and employers to ensure that young people stay in their jobs and that our interventions continuously improve.
While El Salvador project is generating promising results, challenges remain. Innovative solutions are needed that will break cycle of youth unemployment and poverty. This problem is too large as well as complex for any organization to fix. It is therefore Plan has started to explore how to bring together a variety of factors from governments-private sector and civil society to determine what works and which solutions can be scaled to purpose.
We all know very well: "alone you go faster but together you get further"
In the meantime- Plan for encouraging governments to make commitments at national level to:
1) Make quality education accessible for all and ensure that core competencies and life skills are included.
2) Ensure that state-supported vocational job training is linked with private sector and based on labour-market demand, as this improves job placement.
3) Create a supportive environment for business development and promote business initiatives that create jobs for young people - particularly for young women.
4) Listen to young people; strengthen social dialogue mechanisms to ensure that they have input on decisions that affect their lives.
We must not fail current generation of young people in Latin America. Private-sector companies, Government agencies and civil-society organizations such as Plan International can and must work together to find new solutions and harness creativity and innovation of younger generation.