Limón, Costa Rica
Youth Pathways Costa Rica (YPCR), implemented by PANIAMOR Foundation in partnership with YouthBuild International, seeks to break the intergenerational violence and social exclusion of opportunity youth by exposing them to Quality Workplace-Based Training (Q-WBT) opportunities. After receiving soft skills training, young people are placed in small and medium companies (host sites) that form part of YPCR’s youth employment ecosystem. While at their host site, young people receive hands-on, practical work experience and on-the-job training in a variety of positions across diverse sectors, including construction and tourism. The young people have an opportunity to learn technical skills as well as to develop personal, leadership, and livelihood competencies, which better position them for safe, formal employment.
A demonstration project that sought to highlight the effectiveness of Q-WBT was carried out in the Limón province, located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. From 2018 – 2020, 120 young people were enrolled in the demonstration project, and more than 45 local companies served as Q-WBT host sites. Given the pandemic and negative impacts on Costa Rica’s economy, including rising unemployment, YouthBuild International and PANIAMOR adapted the program to provide additional training in entrepreneurship and micro-business start-up for the program’s graduates. The young people are scheduled to launch their enterprises in the summer of 2021.
YouthBuild International’s Technical Assistance to PANIAMOR focuses on program design and strategy, outreach and recruitment, youth leadership development, and youth voice and advocacy. Through the YPCR initiative, PANIAMOR Foundation also successfully advocated for a significant policy change that lowered the age at which young people can participate in employment training programs from 18 to 15.
Since graduating from the program, over 50 young people have continued developing their leadership skills, establishing the YPCR Graduate Network. This network has played a pivotal role in COVID-19 relief efforts, with graduate leaders organizing food basket distribution efforts and peer support groups. To date, these young people have distributed over 350 food baskets in partnership with local grocers.
The YPCR team is currently in discussions with Costa Rica’s Ministry of Labor and Social Inclusion and private sector entities to expand the Q-WBT program to other parts of the country.