Fortalezas – Integrating Young People into the Labor Market

Youth unemployment is a major issue in Latin America. Socially disadvantaged young people, in particular, have litte chance to enter the educational system or job market. Another problem is a lack of training programs geared to the needs of the labor market. To give young people better job opportunities, training programs need to be closely aligned to provide the graduates with the qualifications potential employers are looking for.

The five-year Fortalezas program, launched in 2012 by the Jacobs Foundation in cooperation with Fundación SES, sought to bring 2,000 young people into the labor market in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia.

In courses lasting approximately one year, 18- to 24-year-olds received technical training and help in developing their social skills – which are crucial for success in the workplace. Through close cooperation with the private sector, participants acquired the skills necessary for the job market. The program also helped them find internships with potential employers, making it more likely that they would be offered a job after completing training.

Programs are ultimately only as good as the partners implementing them. The organizational structures and procedures of the six partners that were to implement the program in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia were therefore professionalized prior to the program’s launch, so that Fortalezas could achieve its full impact. To ensure the program’s long-term effectiveness and build on what has been learned, the Jacobs Foundation is supporting Instituto Allianca and Micro Empresas with a sustainability prize that will continue beyond 2017.