Employing Futures: CLA to Strengthen Youth Workforce Development in Honduras
In Honduras, youth employment reaches almost 30 percent, more than double the global rate. It is exacerbated by the lack of citizen security and effective gang deterrence strategies in the country, where youth are often stigmatized for the neighborhoods in which they live and rebuffed by potential employers for their communities' geographical affiliations with gangs. The staggering rate of youth unemployment, compounded by the security challenges, is a key driver of illegal migration out of the country. In order to increase youth employment, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched Empleando Futuros (Employing Futures) in 2016 to target at-risk youth in Honduras. During the first year, the project applied a training module in which youth completed two phases of training prior to job insertion. While this approach initially appeared effective, a pause and reflect event illuminated a significant number of dropouts and the need to strengthen the response to better meet the needs of youth and the labor market. The project had to make a decision, and revisited the underlying assumptions on which the initial model was built.
Empleando Futuros recognized from the onset the importance of ongoing conversations with key stakeholders, most notably youth; of utilizing data to test assumptions underpinning the theory of change; and of periodic reflections to identify failures and successes. The inclusion of collaborating, learning, and adapting (CLA) from the start allowed the project to recognize the limitations of the initial training model early on and utilize the CLA tools and systems to adapt quickly. While it is too early to measure the success of the newly-integrated training model that in part was a result of the application of CLA, preliminary findings suggest that CLA supported the development of new strategies to reduce dropouts and improve basic job skills based on labor market requirements, building the capacity of local systems and partners and reducing risks factors for youth.