IYF and Caterpillar’s philanthropic organization, the Caterpillar Foundation, launched this global initiative in 2012 to increase youth employability prospects and support youth entrepreneurship. The initiative has prepared young people with market-relevant life and technical skills training, internships, on-the-job learning, and job placement support and services. EquipYouth also supports capacity building for implementing partners, including putting in place strategic monitoring and evaluation systems. In each country, we tailor the initiative’s approach to address local youth needs.

CURRENT EQUIPYOUTH PROJECTS

EquipYouth Brazil (2021-present)

In Brazil, 26 percent of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed. Even before the pandemic, Brazil did not have a systematic approach to deal with the youth unemployment crisis, and there is no coordinated action between system actors to better prepare young people for the workforce. Most technical and vocational education and training systems lack, current labor market information, quality education, and connections to employers to create a sustainable, demand-driven pathway to good jobs. Through the support of the Caterpillar foundation, IYF is applying a systems approach to align technical curriculum and teaching practices with industry-driven demands to improve the job training and economic prospects of 18–26 year-olds. EquipYouth Brazil is being implemented in Fortaleza and Recife by Rede Cidadã—our local implementing partner—along with high schools and technical and vocational schools, such as Secretaria Estadual de Educação e Qualidade (SEDUC) and Centro de Profissionalização de Pernambuco (CEPEP). Leveraging IYF’s Bridging the Skills Gaps methodology, project teams are conducting a labor market assessment comparing the gaps between the training offered by Technical and Vocation Education and Training (TVET) systems and the skills needed to connect with the right talent in Northeast Brazil.

Contact: Juan Carlos Hernandez

EquipYouth Panama (2021-present)

Mineral exports in Coclé contribute substantially to Panama's GDP growth and generate many jobs. However, despite good hiring prospects, high youth unemployment precedes the pandemic. Since 2017, it stands above 10 percent among 15-24-years old. In Panama, Technical and Vocation Education and Training (TVET) systems lack market-relevant technical content, as well as quality of education and industry linkages to create a sustainable, demand-driven pipeline leading to the creation of dignified jobs for young people. IYF has partnered with Consejo del Sector Privado para la Asistencia Educacional (COSPAE) to develop EquipYouth Panama. IYF will apply a systems approach to align technical curricula and pedagogical practices with industry demands to improve the job readiness and economic prospects of people ages 18 to 26 in the Coclé region.

Contact: Juan Carlos Hernandez

EquipYouth Peru (2019-present)

In southern Peru, employers have struggled to find qualified skilled labor for technical positions. Currently, 62 percent of young people in southern Peru are employed in sectors that pay lower wages and have few opportunities for advancement. Young people are missing out on promising technical jobs because they lack the desired technical and socio-emotional skills, do not perceive technical careers as attractive, and are not aware of well-paying technical opportunities in the region. 

With funding from Caterpillar Foundation and the Anglo-American Group Foundation, IYFpartnered with Centro de Servicios  para la Capacitación Laboral y el Desarrollo (CAPLAB), to address these issues. Through the EquipYouth program in Peru, CAPLAB successfully reached 1,281 beneficiaries, and according to an ex-post conducted in July 2021, 49 percent of graduates reported being employed. Of those who reported employment, 44 percent were working in the service sector, 21 percent in mining and agriculture, 13 percent in construction, 12 percent in commerce, and 10 percent in the industrial sector. More young people found more job opportunities and job offers in the sectors mentioned above. 

Institutes of higher technical professional education also adopted a suite of interventions that included a needs analysis by the labor market, alignment of the technical training offerings with the identified needs, and Passport to Success (PTS) training-of-trainers (TOT) for the transfer of socio-emotional and life skills. The regional department of education has declared socio-emotional skills a topic of interest and trained 342 directors, faculty, and teachers in their plans to integrate PTS into ongoing institutional educational offerings with an estimated reach of 10,100 students. 

Contact: Juan Carlos Hernandez

EquipYouth Israel: Digital Talent (2019-2021)

Despite Israel’s reputation as a hi-tech hub, many young Israelis from economically disadvantaged communities have not had access to the training and services that would permit them to enter the vibrant high-tech sector and take advantage of the income earning potential it offers. 

EquipYouth (EY) Israel aimed to serve 300 young adults: 180 of them through direct training programs and another 120 through the distribution of government vouchers for training. In partnership with IYF, the Jewish Distribution Community (JDC), our local implementing partner, exceeded expectations with a total of 547 participants (202 direct beneficiaries and 345 via vouchers). Of these, 91 percent (497) were age 35 or younger, and 40 percent (218) were women. 

All ten EY digital training courses (five Digital Talent courses, three E-commerce courses, one Coding Bootcamp course, and one Salesforce course) were completed with an 89 percent graduation rate. After graduation, 100 percent of participants in E-Commerce courses and 50 percent of participants in the Digital Talent courses obtained jobs. The Salesforce course and the Coding Bootcamp are currently working on job placements until the end of 2021.

The EquipYouth Israel initiative was designed before the pandemic, but it became even more relevant after the onset of COVID-19. Unemployment data shows that young adults were among the most affected by COVID- related unemployment, so the need for accessible, intensive digital job training became even more evident and urgent, especially for young adults from vulnerable communities. Our implementing partner, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), says, “JDC is deeply grateful to IYF for its pioneering support, which is helping to make Israel a more equal society, one in which young adults from all communities can rise through training to attain skills that lead to a lucrative career and a better life. … We look forward to new opportunities in the future to continue this vital mission with IYF.”

Since implementation, EquipYouth Israel has improved linkages between job seekers, vocational trainers, and employers. For example, Wix, an Israeli software company, hired a participant of EY two weeks shy of his graduation based on the participants skills and the content of the 8-month digital training. At the same time, by collaborating with institutions in Israel to ensure training curricula are market driven, EY has improved the way curricula for digital professions are developed. And of course, the initiative is equipping young Israeli women and men for the high-demand jobs they want in the high-tech industry.

Contact: Edmari Del Valle

EquipYouth Palestine (2019-2021)

EquipYouth (EY) Palestine worked through the Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) sector to provide life skills training, career guidance, and employment and entrepreneurship preparedness to disadvantaged young women and men in the West Bank and Gaza.   

During the two-year program period, EY Palestine reached 1100 young people ages 16-30, including 322 young women, with market-relevant skills and job exposure. Within three months of program completion, 48 percent of program graduates secured a job or internship. IYF also strengthened the curriculum, pedagogy, and digital technology skills of 16 Vocational Training Centers and members of the Ministry of Labor, ensuring the sustainability and scalability of life skills training and enhanced career services beyond the end of the program. 

EquipYouth Palestine achieved lasting results for young people and the TVET sector in the face of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and the war on Gaza. Yet these challenges also underscored the ongoing need to address youth employability in Palestine. It is now more important than ever to invest in young people because equipping them with the education and opportunities they need to realize their full potential leads to improved job and life outcomes. Afaf, an EY participant, opened a beauty care center after her graduation. “When you believe in yourself,” she explained, “when you follow your passion, and when you have extraordinary opportunities to learn new skills like the ones I have learnt from PTS courses, you can easily challenge the status quo and break the boundaries of what you have been told must be.” 

These positive program results would not have been possible without the support of the Ministry of Labor and its affiliated Vocational Training Centers. We are grateful for their partnership and look forward to future opportunities to stand by, for, and with young people in Palestine.   

Contact: Narmeen Fayyaleh

EquipYouth Mexico (2020 – Present)

Phase 2021

In Mexico, the IT sector is growing rapidly, resulting in an increasing demand for skilled workers across the country, especially in cities such as Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. While the demand for IT jobs in the country has increased 34% since 2019, around 40% of employers in the country experience difficulties hiring people for these roles. Existing IT programs for young people often lack wraparound services and supports (such as tutoring, flexible schedules) that encourage program completion and advancement beyond a training program, and young jobseekers can get lost trying to navigate a field that demands a high level of self-advocacy and self-direction. Furthermore, the current economic and public health crises create additional barriers for young people to get jobs.

Under this phase of the EquipYouth Mexico program, IYF leverages its partnership with Google to offer second-chance employability services to build accessible on-ramps into IT for 200 underserved young people (18-29 years old) through a high-quality soft-skills training and IT Support credentials aligned with employers ́ entry level hiring needs, and to prepare them for career advancement through job-readiness activities such as career exploration, resume preparation, training in interviewing skills and effective job seeking. In addition, IYF leverages its long history working with employers to support a talent pipeline, implementing a multi-pronged approach to educate and engage employers about the Google IT Certificate program, specifically the technical and soft skills learners gain throughout the program and their potential for success in an IT career track.

Implementing partners:

Contact: Katia Moreno Hernandez

Phase 2021-2024

In Mexico, IYF uses a systems change approach to address the problem of disadvantaged and low-income Mexican youth not having the skills to enter the workforce and employers unable to hire qualified talent for openings they have in the advanced manufacturing and IT sectors in the three Mexican states of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas.

To address this skills gap, IYF will incorporate four new elements into the standard school day of CONALEP and COBACH, two of the largest public high schools in Mexico, making it possible to address the skills gap in both sectors in all three states and achieve a strong positioning of the program with the local industry. The four elements to incorporate are:

  • effective career orientation, to align enrollment to demand;
  • experiential life skills training through IYF's Passport to Success® (PTS) methodology;
  • demand-driven technical training designed in partnership with local industry; and,
  • support and tools to help students improve their visibility and attractiveness to employers while learning more about how to access opportunities in their local labor market.

As a result of these improvements in the vocational training system, 25,000 low-income Mexican young people will have the skills they need to secure dignified work in the advanced manufacturing and IT sectors and provide a decent livelihood for themselves and their families.

Implementing partners:

Contact: Andrea Padilla

PREVIOUS EQUIPYOUTH PROJECTS (2012-2021)

China, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea

For information on previous EquipYouth projects, contact Contact: Edmari Del Valle