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.


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, j.hernandez@iyfnet.org

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, j.hernandez@iyfnet.org

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 fewer opportunities for advancement. They come from low-income families who, instead of going onto higher education after high school, tend to reluctantly opt for technical education because they cannot afford university. Meanwhile, although the region has Peru's second highest GDP, employers struggle to find qualified technical talent to fill entry and mid-level positions. 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. To address these challenges, with funding from Caterpillar Foundation and the Anglo-American Group Foundation, IYF has partnered with Centro de Servicios para la Capacitación Laboral y el Desarrollo (CAPLAB), to implement the EquipYouth program in Peru. Through this initiative, CAPLAB is working with the Regional Department of Education of Moquegua and Ilo to add demand-driven technical training and job placement support to post-secondary technical institutes in Southern Peru to improve young people's access to job opportunities in emerging sectors, as well as their income level and quality of life.

Contact: Juan Carlos Hernandez, j.hernandez@iyfnet.org

EquipYouth Israel: Digital Talent (2019-present)

The availability of venture capital and an entrepreneurial culture has given Israel the reputation of a "start-up nation." Despite the country'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. In partnership with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the program focuses on recruiting and serving Israelis not well represented in hi-tech professions. This program offers disadvantaged young women and men in Israel short (3-5 month) training courses in skills for digital professions (such as data analysis and search engine optimization), paired with priority soft skills (IYF's Passport to Success life skills curriculum) and career orientation. Since implementation, EquipYouth Israel has improved linkages between job seekers, vocational trainers and employers to supply the growing high-tech industry. At the same time, this program has improved the way curricula for digital professions are developed, by collaborating with institutions in Israel to ensure training curricula are market-driven.

Contact: Edmari Del Valle, e.delvalle@iyfnet.org

EquipYouth Palestine (2019-present)

In Palestine, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) suffers from negative and inaccurate misperceptions. For both men and women, TVET educational programs are viewed as inferior to other training and learning opportunities. It is not considered higher education, nor perceived as a useful type of education that gives students good work opportunities or social prestige. Often, it is perceived as only valuable and last resort for boys from lower-income backgrounds, or who did poorly or dropped out of school. Consequently, some parents are unwilling to enroll their children in the training centers. This is especially true for girls because courses such as sewing and cosmetics (which women have traditionally been restricted to) don’t pay as well as the TVET professions men are being prepared to enter. EquipYouth Palestine is a multi-year, multi-partner program working through the TVET sector to provide employment, career guidance, and entrepreneurship training to disadvantaged young women and men in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Contact: Narmeen Fayyaleh, n.fayyaleh@iyfnet.org

EquipYouth Mexico (2018-present)

In the state of Nuevo Leon, in Mexico, an estimated 23 percent of its 1.2 million youth population lives in poverty, while 31 percent of young people are not engaged in education, employment, or training (NEET). The majority of NEET youth are young women. Those with small children face larger hurdles to employment, as almost 50 percent of women with young children are not working. Nuevo Leon's industrial production is among the largest contributors to Mexico's growth and formal sector jobs are widely available to workers with the requisite skills and education. However, almost 72 percent of Nuevo Leon's working youth do so informally. Over one year, EquipYouth is working with 849 youth (45 percent women) between the ages of 19 and 29, providing a second-chance, short-term program including life skills and technical training, focused on preparing young people for in-demand entry-level jobs. Given the vulnerability of the target population, EquipYouth Mexico also offers psychosocial support to help young people navigate stress they might face as employees.

Contact: Andrea Padilla, a.padilla@iyfnet.org


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

For information on previous EquipYouth projects, contact Edmari Del Valle, e.delvalle@iyfnet.org