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Job training alliance on track to benefit one million youth in Latin America and the Caribbean

Apr 9, 2015

April 9, 2015

PANAMA– Three years after its creation, the New Employment Opportunities (NEO) initiative, a path-breaking alliance between major corporations, civil society, and the public sector that offers job training and placement services to young people in Latin America and the Caribbean, is on track to achieving its target of reaching one million youth in the region by 2022, announced its founders during the 2015 CEO Summit of the Americas.

NEO was launched in 2012 with the goal of improving the quality of the workforce and the employability of vulnerable young people in a region where 32 million youth (1 in every 5, ages 15-29) are neither at work nor in school.  The alliance was founded by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, the International Youth Foundation (IYF), along with five of the region’s leading employers: Arcos Dorados, Caterpillar, CEMEX, Microsoft, and Walmart. The IDB’s Social Sector has a key role in bringing government agencies into the partnership.

"NEO is improving job opportunities for young people in a region where 32 million youth are neither at work nor in school,” said IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno. “Thanks to our work with companies, governments and civil society, we are making a difference in 10 countries, and this year we are going to take action in six more."

NEO currently has initiatives in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. These efforts offer a wide range of services, from online learning in Brazil and strengthening technical upper secondary education in Mexico, to improving career counseling and job placement in Panama.  Collectively, the existing NEO projects will offer employability services to a projected 382,000 youth by the time they are completed.

In addition to reaching 382,000 young people, NEO has mobilized hundreds of companies, public sector agencies, and NGOs to join the alliance. As of the end of 2014, 2,000 companies had committed to offering internships and jobs to poor and vulnerable youth, and 159 service providers had committed to improving their education services.

“One of the obstacles to achieving inclusive economic growth is the imbalance in the development of labor and life competencies, something that is having an impact on the young,” said Panama’s Labor Minister, Luis Ernesto Carles. “That’s why we value the implementation of NEO in Panama as a specific contribution to increasing employment in this segment of our country’s population.”

 “The success of Latin America and the Caribbean rests with the future generation,” said Walmart’s Senior Director for Federal Government Relations, Sarah Thorn, on behalf of the founding companies. “By joining together private and public sectors, we are helping to address the problems of youth unemployment and a shortage of qualified employees in the workforce. The countries where we operate are important to us, as well as the communities we serve.”

Six new NEO programs, in Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Jamaica, Peru, and Uruguay, are expected to get underway in 2015. Together, they are projected to reach another 100,000 poor and vulnerable youth. By the end of 2014, US$98.3 million had been approved for NEO projects -- US$18.8 million from the MIF, and US$79.5 million from counterparts.

NEO was launched at the 2012 CEO Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia.

Learn more about NEO at http://youthneo.org

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