Youth Employment in Brazil

The next 10 days I will be doing research in Brazil. The organization I work for has been commissioned by Plan International to take a closer look at the critical factors leading to successful youth employment and entrepreneurship programmes. The focus is on short-term programmes in which youth is trained in basic technical skills as well as life skills. We will make use of literature as well as field research in El Salvador, Colombia and Brazil.

The aim will be to come up with a very practical, hands-on, down-to-earth, instrumental set of principles that guide future support programmes. That makes quite some sense as most of the literature on youth employment and entrepreneurship programmes is rather diagnostic. You will find lots of articles on the ‘youth budge’, which might either transform into a demographic dividend or a ticking timebomb with unemployed youth out on the streets as well as more haunting images of very small boats with too many people coming to Europe suffering an ill-advised fate.

Thus I will take a look at a more micro-level. Think of the following: A mentorship component in your programme is all fine and great, to support youth in their quest for employment. But which kind of mentorship model works best? Or: conducting a labor market study is alll wonderful as it gives you an idea which sectors might show growth and provide opportunities for jobs. But does this really give you practical leads for vacancies? If so, how do we make sure a market study is most effective?

Inevitably one big macro-issue will be overlooming this research. The Brazilian economy is largely in shambles and the country is dealing with a political crisis at the same time. Ouch.

What on earth can you possibly do in such a context? Focus on self-employment instead of entrepreneurship? Do a better job at selling youth employment as an ‘interesting business case’ to companies to employ youth? Or should we give up all together? Your thoughts are welcome…

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