Youth Pathways - Central America

Project Duration:
July 2015
September 2020
Funding and Year:

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The Problem

Several factors impede young people in El Salvador and Honduras from accessing quality training and obtaining good jobs once they enter the labor market. Poverty, pervasive violence, and low quality and relevance of schooling push children out of the school system and into potentially hazardous forms of child labor, including the use of children in illicit activities, or to migrate. Youth who reside in areas with high levels of poverty and violence have difficulty securing formal sector jobs, and experience high levels of unemployment and underemployment. Child migrants are particularly vulnerable to labor exploitation and abuse. 

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Our Strategy

Improve livelihood outcomes among at-risk youth to prevent their engagement in exploitative labor and the worst forms of child labor. The four main objectives are to: 

  • Provide at-risk youth with skills and education directly related to labor market needs, in a safe learning environment.
  • Help at-risk youth secure and retain employment.
  • Promote youth employment through business partnerships.
  • Strengthen the capacity of government and community organizations to support relevant vocational training and employment opportunities for youth. 

The project provides the following direct services for at-risk youth to build their personal, academic, workplace, and entrepreneurial competencies:

  • Career Connect Clubs: an integrated academic and career-focused program for youth ages 14-17, aimed at keeping at-risk youth enrolled in school and building their work-related skills. 
  • Youth Builders (Jóvenes Constructores): a basic education, vocational training, and job placement/self-employment program for outof-school at-risk youth ages 16 and older.
  • Community Youth Connect: a set of holistic support services for at-risk youth and their families, designed to move youth away from harmful activities and toward promising careers.
  • Specialized services, including shelter and training, for youth who face credible and immediate threats to their lives.
  • Case management and follow-up support services for youth to secure employment, start a business, or pursue ongoing education.

Activities to improve countries’ youth workforce development systems include:

  • Engaging private sector stakeholders to support opportunities for youth employment.
  • Supporting government and community organizations to adopt effective job training models for at-risk youth.
  • Carrying out research on youth labor markets.
  • Developing and implementing occupational competency models for entry-level employment in high growth sectors.
  • Raising awareness of the worst forms of child labor and labor rights issues among employers.
  • Carrying out exchanges for public officials to learn from innovative youth training programs in Mexico and the United States.
  • Improving processes to integrate returning migrant youth into educational and vocational programs. 

The project will provide direct services to an estimated 5,100 youth ages 14 to 20 and 1,900 family members.

Grantee: Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
Implementing Partners: Fe y Alegría, Glasswing International, YouthBuild International
Contact Information:
(202) 693-4843
Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT)