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New project: Exploring skills enhancement at the secondary level in Latin America and the Caribbean

May 18, 2015

New project: Exploring skills enhancement at the secondary level in Latin America and the Caribbean

FHI 360 and the Results for Development Institute (R4D) are launching a new project, Exploring Skills Enhancement at the Secondary Level in Latin America and the Caribbean, in which they will analyze the skills youth in the region need to more fully participate in the labor market, along with the models of secondary education that will lead to the development of these skills. The partnership will leverage FHI 360’s long track record of supporting education reform efforts and workforce development in the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region and build upon a recent R4D study that identified the skills needed to obtain work in the 21st century economies of Africa and Asia. 

The project will focus on answering these questions:

  • What are the skills employers in the formal and informal economy need from new hires to maintain and increase their productivity?
  • How is secondary education defined in the region, and to what extent is its structure a supportive model to develop relevant skills among youth? 
  • What skills are emphasized in national curricula for secondary education and what skills do students demonstrate? How do these skills align with the needs of employers? Do teachers and other educators understand employer needs? 
  • What innovative and promising formal and informal or alternative models exist that improve access to secondary education as well the acquisition of relevant skills? How can the model(s) be categorized and defined? To what extent can these innovative models be scaled up and replicated? If this has already occurred, what can be learned from the process? What are models that specifically target marginalized youth and those in the informal economy?

The project’s research will be conducted in phases. The first phase will be limited to one country each in the Caribbean (Dominican Republic), Central America (El Salvador) and South America (Colombia), with the hope of expanding both the geographical and research scope in the second phase, if funded. The research will use a mix of primary and secondary sources. There will be a focus on effectively disseminating the findings to stakeholders and engaging policymakers, civil society and donors to discuss the implications. The work will be conducted in close collaboration with local and regional partners in the LAC region, with the intent of building partnerships in the public and private sectors.

The rising demand for secondary education and the changing needs of the labor market in the LAC region present an enormous opportunity to identify and foster innovative ways of enhancing youth skills for the workforce. Because most people enter the labor force after secondary education, it is crucial to consider the relevance of the curriculum and pedagogy for today’s labor market. There is also a need to explore mechanisms to increase quality of learning while reducing persistent inequities in secondary education graduation rates. The region’s large informal economy is a cause for exploring alternative and relevant models of skills development.

Photo credit: Daniel Ernst/iStockPhoto