Approximately one in five youth ages 15 to 24 in Latin America — or 20 million people — are out of school and not working. Many of these young people lack essential skills, a core deficit that limits companies’ abilities to find qualified candidates for employment. Excluded, disaffected youth who are cut off from productive jobs may instead turn to informal activities, such as street trading or service bartering, and some even turn to crime and violence.
With funding from the FHI Foundation, FHI 360 and Results for Development (R4D) led a study to better understand the region’s growing “skills gap” and to identify innovative models and mechanisms that will make youth more employable. This 10-month study investigated the secondary education school-to-work transition in Colombia, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador. Results of that study are presented in the report, Bridging the Skills Gap: Insights from Employers, Educators, and Youth in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The report draws from the voices of more than 300 students, teachers, employers and public officials to connect issues around formal education and workforce development. One of the report’s key findings is that it is important to clearly integrate contextual factors (such as education level and economic sector) to distinguish the particular skills that youth in the region need. The report concludes with recommendations to policymakers and other stakeholders on areas in which investments should be made to improve youth employment outcomes.