The IDB commits to expanding the implementation of the National Employment Opportunities (NEO) program in 10 countries. These programs will build multi-stakeholder partnerships, bringing together businesses, governments, employment service providers, and youth themselves, to design common youth employability strategies. NEO will harness the energies these diverse stakeholders to promote permanent improvement in cross-sector collaboration and equip youth with marketable skills, and transition from under or un-employment to dignified work.
The IDB will implement NEO in 10 countries to create high-impact training services that champion best practices in the youth employment system, and meet both employer and youth needs. This multi-stakeholder partnership will take advantage of economies of scale for knowledge dissemination and communication, while remaining responsive to local demands. The program will include four key components: 1) youth employability policy dialogue and country level multi-stakeholder partnerships; 2) knowledge application and transfer; 3) youth employability project financing; and 4) monitoring and evaluation.
NEO will draw upon a number of resources to realize these 5 components. The IDB's Multilateral Investment Fund's (MIF) participation in NEO Regional Platform will bring all key youth employability stakeholders together to tackle shared challenges. For over 18 years, the MIF has been at the forefront of youth employment and entrepreneurship development in LAC, building deep connections with a variety of sectors. The IDB's Labor Markets Unit at the Social Sector will complement the MIF's private sector connections through its relationships with public youth employment programs and policymakers. The International Youth Foundation (IYF) will bring expertise in the design, execution, monitoring and evaluation. IYF also has a wide network of regional and international partners and access to leaders in media, government, the private sector, and leading NGOs.
Dates will vary depending on the country of implementation:
Component 1: Youth Employability Policy Dialogue and Establishment of Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships at Country Level.
Objective: identify and prepare key stakeholders in at least ten countries to work in a collaborative and coordinated way.
Outputs: (i) at least 10 national partnerships with clear strategic objectives to increase quality and scale of joint youth employability actions; (ii) develop financing strategies and sustainability plans for each partnership; and (iii) at least 50 stakeholders per country participating in awareness events.
Component 2: Knowledge Application and Transfer.
Objectives: systematize and package set of tested tools and methodologies, such as quality standards of youth employability programming, life skills curricula, career guidance and job placement services implementation guides, and build capacity to work with at least 200 service providers to apply these tools to deliver quality youth employability services at scale.
Outputs: (i) one suite of youth employability guides, quality standards, tools and menu of capacity building services developed; (ii) at least 40 best practices systematized as market-ready youth employment solutions; and (iii) creation of regional capacity building team with approximately 20 trainers.
Component 3: Financing of Youth Employability Projects.
Objectives: ensure each partnership mobilizes sufficient resources to develop and implement a systemic approach to increase trained and employed youth. NEO grants (at least one per partnership) will increase the scale of partnerships' efforts, and attract public and private investment.
Main activities include the selection, approval and implementation of grants that apply NEO principles in select locations, including the transfer of Component 2's knowledge and practices.
Component 4: Learning, Monitoring and Evaluation.
Objective: fill knowledge gaps that limit effectiveness of reaching youth at sufficient scale with quality services. NEO will inform decision makers in government, and business and civil society leaders to invest resources more cost-effectively.
The youth unemployment rate for the 148 million 15-29 year olds in Latin American Countries (LAC) is nearly three times that for adults (13% vs. 5% of the economically active population) and 60% of employed youth work in the informal sector, earning less than minimum wage. Additionally, 1 in 5 young people in LAC are neither employed nor in training, and over 50% of students who do not complete high school lack the basic math and literacy skills that most jobs require. The percentage of Latin American youth in the working age population stands at 40% and continues to grow. This 'demographic bonus' has decreased the economic burden of the dependent population, freezing up resources for development.
Yet high unemployment rates continue to exist alongside unmet demand for skilled workers, with the 2011 Manpower survey revealing that 50% of 40,000 companies struggled to find qualified employees. A 2010 IDB survey found that the majority of employers valued skills such as responsibility and teamwork over knowledge and technical skills, but struggle to find young employees with these capabilities.
Without opportunities to gain working experience during their formative years, LAC's youth are left with dim future career and earning prospects.
All stakeholders agree on the necessity of addressing this issue. For employers, a skilled workforce contributes to the long-term sustainability for businesses; governments and NGOs see the opportunity to directly address political instability caused by frustrated unemployed youths; and the youth themselves aspire for a better standard of living, with market-relevant skills helping them to find employment.
NEO is seeking partners to fund activities in 10 countries. By joining NEO in a funding capacity, new partners will have the opportunity to collaborate on the strategic vision of the national platform(s) and become a member of the National Steering Committees. Additionally, NEO seeks financial and inkind backing around training and employment opportunities by supporting trainings for vulnerable youth, offering internships and mentoring opportunities, hiring youth in entry-level positions, and investing in the scale up of the most promising models.