Youth Pathways to Leadership, Learning, and Livelihoods in Costa Rica

Project Duration
September 2016
November 2022
Funding and Year

The project is helping bridge the skills gap in Costa Rica by increasing the number and quality of on-the-job training programs, such as internships and apprenticeships, while ensuring these opportunities are accessible to the youth who need them the most. The project is supporting improvements in the legal and policy framework surrounding youth training, raising awareness about the benefits of work-based training, documenting and disseminating good apprenticeship practices in Costa Rica, and helping both public and private sectors youth training programs to increase their effectiveness.

The Problem

In 2016, Costa Rica’s national statistics agency estimated youth unemployment at 16.6 percent, nearly twice the national average. It also estimated that 17 percent of youth ages 15 to 24 neither study nor work. Unemployed youth without qualifications often turn to the informal sector for livelihoods, where they find fewer protections and work under harmful and exploitative conditions. At the same time, a 2015 survey by Manpower reported that 46 percent of employers could not fill job vacancies due to the lack of experience and technical skills among applicants.

Our Strategy

This project brings together key government agencies, employers, workers’ organizations, and civil society to collaborate on establishing and expanding work-based training programs for youth, such as apprenticeships, with a focus on including vulnerable and marginalized youth. To do this, the project is helping identify improvements that can be made to laws and policies that would help businesses launch quality work-based training programs. It is also providing tools and technical expertise to employers and workers’ organizations to help them implement work-based training programs, and helping existing job training programs reach young people who are at high risk of becoming engaged in hazardous activities. 

The project focuses on building the capacity of national-level stakeholders, as well as that of local organizations currently implementing promising youth training models in the Limón district.


  • After working with the YPCR project and seeing the model’s success, Costa Rica’s Ministry of Labor and Social Security, National Employment Directorate are promoting the integration of quality work-based training program good practices within its existing employment readiness programs and in the National Employment System. 
  • YPCR project created an effective “ecosystem” of public and private allies to share the responsibility of preparing youth in vulnerable conditions for the job market. These relationships helps ensure the sustainability of the model after the program ends.
  • The project established the YPCR Graduate Youth Network and, through it, youth demonstrated their leadership in peer-to-peer support, community service, and advocacy for the quality work-based model among community stakeholders.
YouthBuild International
Implementing Partners:
Paniamor Foundation
Contact Information: / Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT)
Child Labor
Capacity Building
Youth Employment