Earlier this year, 173 at-risk youth in northern Honduras graduated from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Empleando Futuros (Employing Futures) project. These youth were from La Ceiba, a city along Honduras’ northern coast with some of the country’s highest crime and migration rates.
Each of the graduates completed three to six months of training in life skills, basic labor competencies, mentoring, cognitive behavioral therapy, and market-driven technical training in sales as commercial cashiers, product promoters, restaurant operators, or baristas. Each of these technical areas were chosen through consultations with local business leaders in order to meet the workforce’s demand. Within two months of graduation, more than 40 percent of the program graduates have already been placed in jobs.
Numbers only tell part of the story, though. For each young person and their families, the most important number is one: the individual who completed the program. Each graduate who finds employment is a youth beneficiary who is empowered to be an agent for change and stability in his or her community.
The graduation ceremony was attended by youth and their families from La Ceiba and neighboring communities as well as businesses and municipal leaders. Franklin, one of two beneficiaries who now works as a salesperson in a local funeral home, told the audience: “I encourage us to give the best of ourselves and show everyone what we have learned and achieved. We are an example for the youth of Honduras, and Empleando Futuros gives us a way to find a job, but we are the ones who should do our best and give our best. I am Empleando Futuros.”