El Salvador: Champions of Change
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Female youth face cultural expectations, and LGBTIQ youth contend with endemic stigma and prejudice. At the most basic level, there are logistical challenges such as transportation (especially for youth who are disabled) and childcare for those with family responsibilities. Bridges to Employment empowers youth to pursue new pathways to economic empowerment by supporting youth to develop relevant skills and to transition to employment or self-employment.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Bridges to Employment project, led by DAI and in partnership with Plan International and JBS International, aimed to link over 16,000 at-risk youth — especially young women and vulnerable populations — to basic social resources of work, knowledge, security and social capital to foster social inclusion through employment opportunities. The project advanced three objectives: 1) Improved enabling environment promoting workforce development of at-risk youth in targeted high-growth sectors; 2) Improved quality of workforce development services to effectively insert at-risk youth into targeted high-growth sectors; and 3) Improved workforce readiness demonstrated by targeted at-risk youth. The project worked with youth, employers, training institutions and other stakeholders in 15 of El Salvador’s high-crime municipalities.
Plan served as a key partner and lead objective 3, working directly with youth to increase their employment and self-employment opportunities. This project allowed Plan to continue to promote and validate our global Pathways Approach to youth economic empowerment by scaling up Plan previous youth employment programming in El Salvador, allowing us to reach more than 10,000 vulnerable youth.
To promote improved workforce readiness for at-risk youth, Plan led major activities including the implementation of a comprehensive Participatory Youth Assessment and the development and implementation of soft and life skills training curriculums. Moreover, Plan facilitated alliances with service providers to improve access to workforce development training and basic education opportunities. Through business incubation, Plan supported the development of youth entrepreneur initiatives, driven by identified market demands. Plan facilitated access to career counseling and mentoring services, as well as material support as youth transitioned to jobs.
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