22 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean- Antigua & Barbuda, (Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Lucia, Uruguay, Venezuela).
International Youth Foundation (IYF) believes that young people possess the power to shape the future. To learn, work, thrive, and lead, they need access to programs and resources that inspire and challenge them. IYF is a global nonprofit organization that makes this possible. Today in 70 countries, IYF collaborates with businesses, governments, and civil society organizations that share a common desire to improve the life conditions and prospects of young people. Together, IYF and its partners build effective, sustainable, and scalable programs that positively impact the lives of young people worldwide.
Entra21 is a regional program of the International Youth Foundation designed to provide youth ages 16 through 29, in Latin America and the Caribbean with the skills and connections necessary to find decent work and build a lifelong career. Phase I originally targeted 12,000 youth, but ended up reaching over 19,000. Phase II is currently targeting 50,000, but has reached over 51,000to date. In total, both phases have reached over 70,000 youth. Youth from low income households are selected and enrolled in short-term (5-8 months) programs where they develop technical and non-technical skills to enable at least 40% to secure decent jobs and increase their employability. Among the job skills promoted through the Program were information and communications technology skills, which explain the Program’s name, “entra” which refers to the “enter” button on a computer keyboard. Along with ICT, the Program offered comprehensive life skills and job-seeking skills training so youth had the tools necessary to find a job and perform well in the workplace. This training included an internship with a local company or government office.
The executing agencies were successful in recruiting the type of youth targeted by the Program, that is to say, youth from poorer households and who were under or unemployed.
Before the project started, 62% of youth were neither studying nor working; by follow-up (ex-post) the percentage had fallen to 25%. Regardless of whether they were working or not, youth at follow-up felt more positively about their life skills—particularly their self-confidence, their ability to set and reach goals, and learn on their own. Employer satisfaction with the internsprovided through the Program was high. In fact, 36% of youth got their job through their internship. Ratings by employers of the entra21 youth they hired also were consistently positive for the projects evaluated six or more months after youth left the program. Overall, the executing agencies were effective in building relationships with funding sources within and outside of their countries, which enabled them to continue all or part of the training and placement services provided under the Program, once entra21 funding had ended.
The overall objective of the Program is to improve the employability of disadvantaged youth, ages 16-29, through information technology skills.
The purpose of the Program is to support projects that establish partnerships between NGOs and IT training providers and businesses to prepare and place disadvantaged youth in jobs using IT skills and to disseminate lessons learned and promote best practices derived from the projects. The Program is intended to make a significant contribution to building a bridge between labor market needs and youth whose interests and capabilities make them ideal candidates to fill the IT skills gap. The Program will create a dynamic partnership between NGOs, information technology training centers and business to help meet the IT training and employment needs of the region’s youth.
Another one of Entra21′s goals is to generate lessons about how to work with the region’s “harder to hire” youth so that public sector leaders, donors and civil society organizations can help the region’s unemployed and ill-prepared youth to move out of poverty into decent employment and, ultimately, a better standard of living.
Through entra21 IYF also sought to develop a wide range of partnerships across public and private sectors to bring the issue of youth employment to the forefront, to draw in additional resources, and lay the groundwork for long-term sustainability.
Due to the success of phase I of the entra21 program, the MIF IIDB and IYF agreed in 2007, to expand the scale of the Program and work with a subset of youth of especially high risk. Not only was the target number of youth increased from 12,000 to 50,000 but IYF was challenged to increase the scale of the projects by creating partnerships between its local partners (primarily NGDs) and host country governments and the private sector.
In addition, a more vulnerable segment of youth were targeted to see how effectively the program could work with harder to hire youth-that is to say youth who in addition to being poor are from rural areas, or disabled, or early school leavers, etc.
Entra21 addresses three important gaps: the “youth employment gap: that is, higher unemployment rates of young people compared to those of adults, the “skills gaps” between the supply and demand for workers with the skills necessary to succeed in a fast changing marketplace, and the “digital gap” between developed and developing countries in their migration to information-based economies. This situation affects the Latin America and Caribbean region’s ability to improve its innovation capacity, of businesses to increase productivity, and of young people to contribute to economic growth.
Entra21 addresses the issues above by providing youth the skills to navigate the world of work so that the benefits accrued through the program are sustained over time; providing youth with safe spaces, caring adults, high standards and the supports to reach these expectations.
The project initiated activities in Latin America and has expanded in Phase 2 to cover Eastern Caribbean countries using the same methodology and modalities through the Caribbean Youth Empowerment program. Its flexible approach through local institutions facilitates its implementation in a wide range of conditions. The model has also been successfully tested in 35 other pilot programs that have included South Africa, Rwanda and Tanzania and in other countries of Africa, Arab States and Asia, with support from the Microsoft Youth Empowerment Program and the Samsung Real Dream Program, which have emphasized ICT training. This would appear to demonstrate solid transferability.