Argentina continues to face a sharp economic recession with high inflation rates. As the country’s faltering economy contracts, youth unemployment levels grow. In the first quarter of 2019, youth unemployment rose to 22 percent, more than double the general rate of 10 percent. The incidence of informality in employment is pervasive, standing at above 40%, with youth outnumbering adults in the informal sector by nearly two to one. 50 percent of students in Argentina fail to graduate from secondary school, which is an additional area of concern as wages and education levels are highly and positively correlated. Youth drop out of school largely due to low quality and irrelevant education. The 2018 Programme for International Assessment test (PISA), conducted by the OECD, shows that 15-year-old Argentines score among the lowest (66th place among 77 participating countries) in math, reading, and science.
EMPUJAR operates in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, where the effects of the economic recession are particularly acute, helping young people from marginalized communities get the training and support they need to access the labor market. To a lesser degree, it also runs programs in the more affluent city of Buenos Aires but providing services to youth who live in the city’s most 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 350 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 second grant to EMPUJAR is helping establish the institutional and programmatic foundations needed to triple the size of the organization’s livelihoods program, which will turn help 605 vulnerable youth from Buenos Aires increase their employability prospects through skills training, mentoring, access to internships and job placement support. Program participants are between the ages of 17-24 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.
Primary Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Funded Since: 2019
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