Argentina’s economy went through a year of “endless storms” in 2018, in the words of President Macri. The storms included a severe drought that affected agricultural exports, the ripple effects of the U.S Federal Reserve’s rate hikes (which translated into capital flight from weak emerging markets), the crash of the country’s peso currency, and policy missteps. The country is now suffering the worst of a recession that is expected to last until the second quarter of 2019 when the government hopes a strong recovery will take hold. But rising unemployment and high inflation remain serious threats to that optimistic outlook.
The incidence of informality in employment continues to be pervasive in Argentina, standing at above 40%, with youth outnumbering adults in the informal sector by nearly two to one. Additionally, young people are much less likely to be employed than adults, with the youth unemployment rate standing at 22%, three times higher than the overall rate of 7.2%. Wages are highly positively correlated with educational levels, representing another area of concern, as 50% of students in Argentina do not finish secondary school. Youth drop out of school largely due to low quality and irrelevant education. The 2012 Program of International Assessment (PISA) test conducted by the OECD indicated that Argentine 15-year-olds scored among the lowest out of 64 countries (58 in Math, 60 in reading, and 57 in Science).
EMPUJAR operates in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, where the effects of the economic recession are particularly acute. To a lesser degree, they also run programmes in the more affluent city of Buenos Aires but providing services to youth who live in vulnerable neighborhoods.
EMPUJAR was founded in 2013 by a group of business leaders from small to medium-sized companies with the goal of increasing the employability of disadvantaged youth from the City and Province of Buenos Aires, through skills training and job placement support. EMPUJAR is an acronym that roughly translates into “Businesses united for the advancement of youth in Argentina.” Its uniqueness resides in the fact that it was established, and until now has been sustained by, the local business community. EMPUJAR is interested in making a strategic pivot by diversifying its funding sources and reaching out to institutional donors, both nationally and internationally. A grant from EMpower will help them start moving into this direction.
EMPUJAR supports 150 youth aged 17-24 through nine training centers located throughout Buenos Aires, where it offers employability skills training in the following areas: self-awareness, teamwork, flexibility and adaptability, planning and organizing, problem-solving communication, and initiative and enterprise. Seventy percent of program participants get a job or pursue higher education after graduating. EMPUJAR training centers are housed and operate from the headquarters of associated businesses. Centers are jointly staffed by employees from EMPUJAR and from the host firm. The firms actively participate in program activities by offering youth the following services: mentoring to successfully transition into the labor market, internship opportunities, development and review of CV’s, and mock job interviews, among other things.
Program participants are in their last year or have already graduated from high school and come from vulnerable settings and family backgrounds: their parents are either unemployed or work in the informal sector, and have primary level education only. The organization is officially endorsed by the government of the provinces of Buenos Aires, which helps with the recruitment of program participants in public schools.
EMPUJAR has a board composed of seven directors, all of whom are business leaders. The Chair is a young businessperson who is passionate and has a clear vision for the organization’s future (growing the network of supporting businesses and expanding EMPUJAR’s program to other Argentine provinces). The organization is well staffed with a team of 10 young professionals who are highly committed and knowledgable in their respective fields (programs, communications, resource mobilization, community outreach and finance/administration).
EMpower’s first grant to EMPUJAR will help 200 vulnerable youth from Buenos Aires increase their employability prospects through skills training, mentoring, access to internships and job placement support. This will be done by working in partnership with a network of local businesses that support EMPUJAR’s mission, both financially and through active participation in program activities. Program participants are between the ages of 17 and 24 and come from vulnerable backgrounds: some live in neighborhoods without electricity or sanitation services, and their parents have primary level education only and are either unemployed or work in the informal sector.
Our Underwriters pay for all of our administrative and fundraising costs, so 100% of your donation goes directly to empowering at-risk youth.