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IDB fund to support project using soccer to improve employability of Latin American youths

The Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) will provide a $3.8 million grant to a project that will use soccer and other team sports as a tool to help disadvantaged youths in Brazil, Ecuador and Uruguay develop key workplace skills and increase their employment prospects.

The project will be carried out by Partners of the Americas, a non-governmental organization that promotes people-to-people cooperation between citizens in the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean. The four-decade-old NGO, which has partner organizations throughout the region, will provide $2.5 million for the project.

Partners of the Americas has ample experience in youth development programs and frequently teams up with major U.S. corporations interested in supporting social, economic and cultural projects in the region.

The new project’s model, which rose from the results of workshops and consultations held with youth groups, community leaders, business people, sports organizations and local government officials, seeks to address the problem of young people’s employability.

Unemployment rates among Brazilians, Ecuadorians and Uruguayans ages 15 to 24 are far above the workforce averages in their respective countries, and are even higher among youths from low-income households. Business leaders in these countries cite that young people often lack basic workplace skills that can help them find and retain jobs.

The project, which will be known as A Ganar (Spanish for “to win”) in Ecuador and Uruguay and as Vencer in Brazil, aims to overcome the limitations of isolated job training efforts by bringing together a range of stakeholders: local governments, chambers of commerce, private sector companies, nonprofit organizations and sports associations, among others.

In order to achieve a demonstration effect in each country, the project will involve youths in the professional soccer feeder system in Uruguay, while in Ecuador it will deal with young people in the soccer feeder system and in vocational training schools. In Brazil it will draw athletes from various organized sports including soccer, volleyball and track and field.

Participants will receive training in a core employability curriculum to address issues such as the capacity to work in teams, be punctual, meet deadlines, observe workplace etiquette and develop intrapersonal communications skills. The curriculum will need business groups’ endorsement in order to be recognized as a valid credential.

The project will engage companies that can provide scholarships, internships and stipends for youths in the training program. One of the project’s components entails an outreach campaign to build awareness about A Ganar and Vencer, particularly through major sports events.

The MIF, an autonomous fund administered by the IDB, supports the development of the private sector and efficient markets in Latin America and the Caribbean. It has financed job training and certification programs in several countries in the region.

The IDB also has a Youth Development and Outreach Program, which focuses on participation and leadership, community service, business development and access to information and communication technologies for young people in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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