Employment opportunities for youth in Honduras are few and far between, especially in the country’s high crime “hot spots.” In this Central American country, over 50 percent of youth are unemployed or underemployed — but the rate is even higher in those cities and neighborhoods that are dominated by organized crime. In a country with one of the highest homicide rates in the world, the place you live can determine your future. Organized crime and gangs employ extortion methods (popularly known as a “war tax”) that severely inhibit the success of entire communities and their youth.
Banyan Global is implementing the five-year United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Empleando Futuros (Employing Futures) project in Honduras. This project targets at-risk youth, providing job training and placement through a comprehensive and inclusive multi-pronged approach. Working with at-risk youth, including those in need of secondary and tertiary services, the project offers soft skills development and mentoring, along with market-oriented vocational training and targeted job insertion developed through private sector alliances. Empleando Futuros is contributing to the United States government’s broader Strategy for Engagement in Central America, an initiative that seeks to lower regional violence and reduce migration. Our project is assisting 7,500 at-risk youth from marginalized neighborhoods, providing marketable skills and job prospects that will sustain them throughout their lives.
One of the project’s major challenges has been addressing the stigma associated with hiring youth from marginalized communities. Accordingly, Banyan Global is working with the private sector to shape attitudes and build strategic alliances that can change existing mindsets. This approach includes demonstrating to businesses that, despite the stigma attached to living in high-crime neighborhoods, program graduates have both the skills they require and the institutional backing to ensure they are qualified to work. Empleando Futuros is building lasting bridges between the organizations that serve at-risk youth and employers who need qualified people.
“The best part of this partnership with Empleando Futuros is that together we’re capable of making the necessary institutional changes; there is a real commitment on our part.”
— Mr. Edgardo Valenzuela,
INFOP Deputy Director
Empleando Futuros also supports INFOP, the Instituto Nacional de Formacion Profesional (National Institute for Professional Development), which is tasked with developing and delivering professional and technical training across Honduras. Empleando Futuros is helping INFOP to (1) align their courses to private sector needs, and (2) build the capacity of their staff to support this goal. Recently, the project held a series of workshops with all INFOP division heads to identify lessons learned and to identify the organization’s technical, operational, and human resource needs, resulting in a multi-year action plan. Empleando Futuros will be working with INFOP over the life of the project, building local capacity to meet the needs of at-risk youth in Honduras.