Argentina continues to face a sharp economic recession with high inflation rates, a situation made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the economy shrank by 10.3%, the largest single-year contraction in the country’s history. Argentina is expected to have the weakest economic recovery among the major Latin American economies, not returning to its pre-pandemic GDP levels at least until 2023. The unemployment rate has spiked to 13% according to official data (28% when counting the 2.5 million people who left the formal job market entirely). Young people, especially young women, have been the most affected, with an official unemployment rate of 29% (compared to 23% for young men).
Data compiled by Argentina’s national statistics bureau found that women in the formal sector are paid 26% less than men. In the informal sector, which comprises 47% of Argentina’s economy, the gender gap is even larger, at 35%. As a result of cultural norms, women tend to be segregated in jobs considered to be more ‘feminine’, such as domestic services, health and education, which usually fall on the lower end of the salary spectrum. This all leads to unequal representation of women in the labour market.
EMPUJAR operates in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, where the effects of the economic recession are particularly acute. EMPUJAR helps young people from marginalized communities get the training and support they need to access the labour market.
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 third grant to EMPUJAR is helping 865 marginalized youth between the ages of 17 and 24 (86% female and 14% male) increase their employability prospects through life skills and vocational skills training, mentoring, access to internships and job placement support. The grant will also help mainstream gender equity into EMPUJAR’s employability programme, pilot a new initiative to offer training and promote access to employment in the software sector, and update the organisation’s monitoring, evaluation and learning framework.
Primary Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Funded Since: 2019
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