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New projects of the MIF’s NEO regional initiative will benefit at least 65,000 youth in Panama, Paraguay and El Salvador

Nov 18, 2014

Washington, November 12, 2014— The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, has approved three projects in Panama, Paraguay, and El Salvador under the New Employment Opportunities for Youth (NEO) program, a regional youth job skills initiative. Through NEO, companies, governments, and civil society contribute resources, knowledge, and skills to implement effective and sustainable job solutions in order to improve the employability of 1 million poor and vulnerable youth in Latin America and the Caribbean in 10 years. The three approved projects will begin operations in early 2015.

NEO Panama

The NEO project approved in Panama will have a total budget of US$7.7 million, of which the MIF will contribute US$1.5 million in a technical assistance grant.

NEO Panama will seek to improve connections between the country’s productive and training sectors to provide 33,200 vulnerable youth with the skills required in the labor market and increase the reach and quality of youth training programs and employment systems in the cities of Panama, David, Penonome, and Colon. It will also strengthen 25 work training facilities and public and private youth service centers.  The initiative will begin in the construction, logistics, and tourism sectors, identified as high-growth sectors with an unsatisfied demand for qualified personnel in the country.

The project will help align occupational and technical training with the demands of enterprises in the aforementioned sectors. Similarly, under the initiative, orientation and placement services for youth will be developed and a low-cost, user-friendly digital platform for employment will be strengthened.

The NEO Panama alliance is formed by 17 members, including three unions that represent the construction, logistics, and tourism sectors, as well as the Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development, the INDADEH (National Institute of Professional Training for Human Development) and the Ministry of Education, among others. The executing agency will be the Private Sector Council for Educational Assistance (COSPAE), a nonprofit organization with extensive experience in the topics of youth employability and excellent linkages with the private and public sectors as well as civil society.


NEO Paraguay

The NEO project approved in Paraguay will have a total budget of US$5.1 million, of which the MIF will contribute $1.2 million in a technical assistance grant. NEO Paraguay will seek to increase employment opportunities for 22,000 youth between the ages of 16 and 29, and to extend the reach of training programs and employment systems in the city of Asuncion and the departments of Caaguazu, San Pedro, Paraguarí, Guaira, and Central. It will also strengthen 25 work training facilities and youth service centers. The initiative will initially start working in the fields of metallurgy, shipbuilding, and tourism services, all high-growth sectors with an unsatisfied demand for qualified personnel.

NEO Paraguay will support the development of sectorial working groups in order to obtain relevant information on occupational profiles and required standards, identify key technical and life skills, provide recommendations for adapting training curricula and intervention strategies to sectors’ needs, along with a relevant and continued update of this cycle. As part of its strategy, NEO Paraguay will also seek to reduce poor and vulnerable youth’s information gaps about employability services through the one-stop-shop employment facilities, job fairs tailored to the targeted populations, and an comprehensive, user-friendly digital information platform. 

NEO Paraguay will complement the actions of the IDB Labor Markets Unit’s Program to Support Job Placement.

The NEO Paraguay Alliance is formed by 15 members, including five ministries and public sector secretaries, three private sector entities, and seven civil society organizations, among them the Center of Information and Resources for Development (CIRD), an organization with extensive experience in promoting social capital in Paraguay, and which will be the executing agency of the project, coordinating the project in the name of the Alliance.

Youth Pathways - El Salvador

The project approved in El Salvador was included as part of the NEO regional initiative as it seeks to scale two specific employability and self-employment models for at-risk youth ,  Youth Builders and the Auto Savings and Loans Groups, in association with public and private entities. In NEO, this project will be the first operation working at scale with at-risk youth in contexts of high violence and with a combined focus on employment and self-employment.

Specifically, it will benefit 10,020 poor and at-risk youth in the municipalities of San Salvador, Soyapango, Santa Ana, San Miguel, Mejicanos, and Sonsonante. It will also benefit employers and seven work training centers.

The project in El Salvador has a total budget of US$8.1 million, of which the MIF will contribute US$1.5 million in a technical cooperation grant. The project will be executed by Catholic Relief Services, an American NGO with more than 50 years of experience operating in El Salvador, in alliance with YouthBuild International. The role of the MIF will include strengthening, transferring, bringing to scale, and contributing to the sustainability of effective programs for the socio-productive inclusion of at-risk youth. El Salvador’s National Institute for Vocational Education and Liaison Financial Services, will be two key partners in order to achieve project objectives.


About  NEO

New Employment Opportunities (NEO) is a regional initiative in which companies, government, and civil society contribute resources, knowledge and skills to implement effective and sustainable job solutions in order to improve the employability of poor and vulnerable youth in Latin America and the Caribbean. The regional NEO initiative was launched at the Summit of the Americas on April 2012, under the strategic direction and contribution of the MIF, the Social Sector of the IDB, and the International Youth Foundation, with founding corporate partners Arcos Dorados, Caterpillar Foundation, CEMEX, Microsoft and Walmart. By 2017, NEO will benefit 500,000 youth in at least 10 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Learn more http://youthneo.org/

About the MIF

The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, is funded by 39 donors and supports private sector-led development benefiting low-income populations and the poor—their businesses, their farms, and their households. The aim is to give them tools to boost their incomes: access to markets and the skills to compete in those markets, access to finance, and access to basic services, including green technology. A core MIF mission is to act as a development laboratory—experimenting, pioneering, and taking risks to build and support successful micro, small, and medium business models. More information can be found at www.fomin.org.

 
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