The COVID-19 pandemic had an unprecedented impact on Colombia’s labour market. Despite a projected GDP growth of 6% in 2022, the national unemployment rate continues to be high, standing at 10.6%. The youth unemployment rate is even higher, at 21.3%, with young people living in marginalized communities being affected the most. Among the young people who are employed, the majority works in the informal sector and lacks access to the social security benefits that come with formal employment. Without viable or attractive job prospects, many young people turn to criminal groups and gangs, which offer them an easy and lucrative way to make money, but often lead to death, injuries, or incarceration.
Despite these challenges, there are segments of the Colombian economy that continue to be dynamic and that show important employment opportunities. Most notably, the software development and information technology sector. According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), software development will be the fastest growing sector for new employment in Latin America over the next five years, with 1.2 million professionals needed by 2025. The IADB points to a talent gap in this area, with a significant mismatch between labour demand and supply. With adequate technical education, life and job-seeking skills training, and with job placement support, marginalized young people can access entry-level positions in a field characterized by attractive salaries and full social benefits, and where labour demand outpaces supply.
Rofé is a young and vibrant organisation based in Bogotá. Its mission is to help increase the employability of marginalized young people across Colombia by teaching them computer programming and basic life skills, and by helping them secure employment upon graduation. Rofé experienced exponential growth since its foundation in 2018, jumping from 25 to 300 program participants in 2022. The organisation is highly effective, with 70 percent of program graduates getting a job or pursuing higher education after finishing the training course.
EMpower's first grant to Fundación Rofé will support the scaling-up of its livelihoods programme in Cali, helping 80 marginalised young people between the ages of 17 and 19 (60% female and 40% male) to increase their employability prospects through life skills and vocational skills training, mentoring, and access to job placement support. Participants will also learn basic job-seeking skills, including how to compose their resumes, how to behave in job interviews, and how to undertake job searches. By the end of the course, participants will become front-end programmers. 80% of program graduates are expected to become employed in the formal sector and/or continue on to higher education studies in the software development field.
Primary Location: Cali, Colombia
Funded Since: 2023
Stay up-to-date on the latest EMpower news, highlights from our grantee partners, upcoming events, and more.