With youth unemployment almost three times the adult rate and 32 million youth in Latin America and the Caribbean neither working nor studying, identifying effective strategies to expand employment opportunities for the region’s youth is a top priority for policy makers, communities and companies. These troubling statistics prompted the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and its key ally, the Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank (MIF/IADB) to focus the second phase of the entra21 program on enabling “harder to hire” young people to become more employable.

Under entra21, 18 projects focused on providing harder to hire youth with comprehensive training and job placement series. “Harder to hire” youth refers to those young people who have significant disadvantages that make it more difficult for them to find a job, such as having low levels of education, living in rural areas, having a disability, or belonging to a minority ethnic group.

This report looks at five projects in Ecuador, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Peru that were selected to be part of a study that examined the effectiveness of these initiatives in helping at-risk youth gain market-relevant job skills and become employed. Equipping Harder to Hire Youth for the Labor Market: Results from entra21 examines how successfully the programs recruited more vulnerable youth, whether they were able to become more employable, and what program interventions contributed to their success. The research was coordinated by Sistemas de Monitoreo y Evaluación (SISTME), a research group in Argentina.

Among the study’s results: the majority of “harder to hire” youth did find employment after participating in entra21, and despite social and economic disadvantages they were able to complete the training and become certified. However, research confirmed that the most vulnerable youth still face tremendous challenges finding success in the workplace. This study was financed by the Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank, a founding partner of entra21.

Read Equipping Harder to Hire Youth for the Labor Market: Results from entra21 in English or Spanish.