JOSÉ MANUEL SALAZAR-XIRINACHS Generation Ni/Ni: Latin America’s Lost Youth
training. In Peru, the Asociación de Bancos del Perú (
Peruvian Banking Association—Asbanc) and the Asociación
de Exportadotres del Perú (Peruvian Exporters Association—ADEX) have sponsored vocational training centers.
Workers organizations, such as La Confederación Sindical de Trabajadores y Trabajadoras de las Américas (The
Trade Union Confederation of the Americas—TUCA) and
its Juventud Trabajadora de las Américas (Committee of
Working Youth of the Americas), on the other hand, seek
to promote young workers’ participation and youth employment through union-led initiatives.
Address Accreditation Gaps
Employment and intermediation services can help youth overcome information barriers. They facili- tate access to information on vacancies and post
jobseekers’ qualifications to enable job matching. One
promising public-private initiative that provides job
search assistance and counseling to young people was
the Promoción del Empleo Juvenil en América Latina (
PRE-JAL) project, implemented in Argentina, Brazil, Chile,
Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, and Dominican Republic between 2006 and 2010.
Another example is Peru’s Certijoven, an ongoing government program backed by the United Nations that
has also shown success in providing youth employment services. By providing young jobseekers with a
document, the Certijoven, which contains key information that employers look for (detailed work experience/
history, background checks) the program reduces information asymmetries for young workers. Prior to the implementation of Certijoven, young job seekers would
often spend time and money collecting all those documents. Since the project’s implementation, the government issues the certificate free to young jobseekers in
about 10 to 20 minutes, providing youth with faster and
easier access to jobs.
Entrepreneurship programs that integrate skills training, mentoring and access to capital have dem- onstrated success in boosting business creation.
Evaluations of the Calificación de Jóvenes Creadores de
Microempresas program in Peru and Proyectos Productivos
in Argentina suggest numerous ingredients for success.
These include demand-driven training content; private-sector participation in program design and implementation; appropriate targeting and screening mechanisms
to leverage youths’ competitive advantages and reduce
program drop-out rates; and access to financial capital
and the development of financial and youth-tailored
banking instruments that encourage savings and provide a pathway for credit.
Facilitating finance via venture capital and angel investment, complemented by mentoring for promising
entrepreneurs, can boost small business creation and
overall economic growth. Angel investing groups and
networks are playing an increasingly important role
in many countries, as a 2001 report by the OECD demonstrated. 15
Providing good job opportunities is a power- ful mechanism for social inclusion. A lack of such opportunities is the surest route to so- cial exclusion. Young people without decent work become disheartened, disempowered
and disconnected from economic and political institutions. In the worst cases, they become a threat to themselves, and to national and international security.
Politicians who neglect the plight of young people
do so at their own peril. Latin American and Caribbean
countries need to avoid a lost generation of disenfranchised, unemployed young adults.
Investing in labor markets and creating jobs for young
people has a multiplier effect that goes beyond better
labor market and economic growth outcomes. It can affect the way youth look at the future and reduce crime
and social exclusion.
Young people are an asset for the region, an engine
of growth, innovation and development. A lot has been
learned about best practices for creating youth employment programs. Governments, entrepreneurs and business leaders, workers, and trade union leaders, should
work to build on past success and recommit themselves
to reducing youth unemployment. Committing to good
jobs for young men and women is tantamount to promoting growth and development. The future of Latin
America depends on how political and business leaders, in partnership with young people themselves, face
José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs is executive
director for employment at the International Labour
Organization. The author would like to thank
Susana Puerto and Juan Chacaltana for comments.
FOR SOURCE CI TATIONS SEE: WWW. AMERICASQUARTERLY.ORG/SALAZAR
113 Americas Quarterly SPRING 2012