By providing market-driven skills training, we can help people in developing communities improve their incomes and secure their livelihoods.
There is a shortage of quality labor to meet the growing demands of many industries within developing countries. Skill disparities often exist because there is usually a mismatch between the workforce requirements of local industry and the existing competencies held among the pool of available workers. These disparities frequently occur when economic development efforts introduce new industries that require skills that do not exist in the region or when training and education systems are insufficient in terms of scale, quality, or relevance. The Acceso Centro de Formación para el Trabajo (Acceso Training Center Enterprise) was created to support a range of employability programs, including hospitality, aimed at improving the livelihoods for thousands of disadvantaged youth in Cartagena, Colombia. We prepare and place marginalized youth in quality hospitality jobs by providing them with the specific competencies and skills sets in housekeeping and hotel guest services, and as kitchen aids, baristas, food and beverages patrons, administrative and accounting assistants.

Amid the natural beauty of Cartagena’s Caribbean coast there exists an alarming level of wealth disparity in Colombia’s most notable tourist destination – with large percent of the population living in poverty.

Despite the city’s thriving hospitality and tourism industry, the local residents are unable to tap into this growing industry because they lack the necessary skills needed to apply for these employment opportunities. Therefore, most are forced to live a subsistent life as an entrepreneur, farmer, or fishermen and struggle to secure a stable income because of unstable market conditions and lack of education – most survive on less than $1 a day.

The city’s hospitality industry is growing at an impressive rate and having reliable and skilled staff is a critical requirement for the success of this industry.

The Innovation

The Acceso Centro de Formación para el Trabajo (Acceso Training Center Enterprise) was created to support a range of employability programs, including hospitality, aimed at improving the livelihoods for thousands of disadvantaged youth in Cartagena, Colombia.  We prepare and place marginalized youth in quality hospitality jobs by providing them with the specific competencies and skills sets in housekeeping and hotel guest services, and as kitchen aids, baristas, food and beverages patrons, administrative and accounting assistants.

The Training Center’s programs address the critical labor needs of the growing hospitality industry and have been custom tailored to the specific requirements of the industry. We’ve engaged with local hotels, academic institutions, and government organizations to develop highly relevant training content and methodologies. These partnerships have been tremendously valuable, as they perform periodic reviews and provide updates to our curricula, assess our strategy, provide hands-on training opportunities and internships, and support our job placement efforts.  Armed with this very helpful information, our team can quickly respond to changes in the hospitality industry by adjusting the variety of training provided, fine-tune the numbers and qualifications of students enrolled, and update the content of course curricula.

The value gained from collaboration has motivated industry leaders to hire and retain our graduates, as well as become long-term partners and friends.

The Impact

With the co-investment by Fondo Acceso SAS, Fundación Carlos Slim, Gestión y Desarrollo del Talento del Caribe, and Gente Estrategica, we will train up to 20,000 youth over the next ten years initially in hospitality jobs and expanding into other local growing sectors such as ports and logistics.   These youth will be placed into more sustainable and quality jobs, significantly improve their annual incomes, and quality of life, whilst empowering them to succeed with dignity.

We see a clear opportunity to replicate the successes of this Training Center Enterprise model elsewhere in the developing world.


About Training Center Enterprises

There is a shortage of quality labor to meet the growing demands of many industries within developing countries. Skill disparities often exist because there is usually a mismatch between the workforce requirements of local industry and the existing competencies held among the pool of available workers. These disparities frequently occur when economic development efforts introduce new industries that require skills that do not exist in the region or when training and education systems are insufficient in terms of scale, quality, or relevance.

The Opportunity

Our Training Center enterprises support a range of employability programs aimed at improving the livelihoods for thousands of disadvantaged youth around the world.  We prepare and place youth in quality jobs by providing them with the specific competencies and skill sets that target high-growth sectors of industries that offer quality entry-level positions.

Our success has been heavily dependent on our ability to identify and respond to unique labor market requirements and to tailor our training programs to the specific needs of the local industry. Engaging local employers, academic institutions, and government organizations in our program design and implementation has been tremendously valuable in our ongoing operations, as they continually give feedback on our curricula, provide hands-on training opportunities and internships, and support our job placement efforts.   In addition, these partnerships help us re-examine the market to ensure our programs are in tune with the local opportunities.

We have found that when training programs are intentionally designed to address critical needs of local labor markets, they are more likely to develop highly relevant training content and methodologies, which result in sustainable job placements compared to training programs that are disconnected from local market requirements.

Employers are eager to continue to participate, as we address key human resource issues that significantly impact their bottom line such as reduced job vacancy rates, productivity improvements, and better employee satisfaction or retention.

The value gained from collaboration has motivated these industry leaders to hire and retain our graduates, as well as become long-term partners.