Labor Dept. Pledges $13 Million to Promote Employment for Youth--in El Salvador, Honduras

By Melanie Arter | April 14, 2015 | 12:59pm EDT

In this photo Nov. 28, 2014 photo, a member of Hondura's Military Police, stands guard at the entrance of a school, during the last day of class, in the Canaan neighborhood of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Street gangs control most schools in Tegucigalpa, where a lot of the students are gangsters, along with their parents. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

( – The Labor Department through its Bureau of International Labor Affairs has announced $13 million in grants to promote employment among at-risk youth in El Salvador and Honduras.

“The project will target youth ages 14 to 17 that are susceptible to the worst forms of child labor, as well as youth ages 18 to 20 that are susceptible to hazardous and exploitative working conditions, primarily targeting youth that reside in communities with high levels of crime and violence,” the grant announcement stated.

El Salvador and Honduras are among the most violent countries in the world. Honduras had a homicide rate of 79 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2013, and El Salvador had a homicide rate of 41.2, according to the Labor Department.

Over 64 percent of Hondurans and over 34 percent of El Salvadorans live in poverty. In Honduras, the net enrollment rate for 7th through 9th grade is 48.7 percent and 25.1 percent for 10th to 11th grade. In El Salvador, there is a 37.6 percent net enrollment rate for 9th through 11th grade, the grant noted.

In Honduras, more than 50 percent of all unemployed workers are under age 24, and in El Salvador, that number is approximately 41 percent, it added.

"The Obama administration has made clear that a secure, stable Central America is in the interest of the United States. Creating real economic opportunity for that region's most vulnerable youth is critical to achieving that goal. The U.S. Department of Labor is prepared to do its part,” the Labor Department announced last week in a press release.

"At-risk youth at home and abroad share similar struggles," said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "They work hard to overcome poverty and escape gang violence, but the deck is stacked against them without access to a good education and good jobs. This project will help give a lifeline to youth in El Salvador and Honduras by providing the valuable, job-driven training and employment resources that they need."

“Training services will be provided to youth in a safe learning environment, in some cases through residential training facilities,” the grant stated.

“In Honduras, for the most at-risk youth who cannot continue to live in or return to their communities because of danger to themselves or their families, at a minimum, USDOL requires Applicants to propose a residential service center(s), where youth live for the duration of their training,” it noted.

According to the Labor Department, grant applicants are expected to “provide at-risk youth with skills and education directly related to labor market needs in a safe learning environment.” They must ensure that training sites are free from threats or violence and that youth that take part in job training are not engaged in “the worst forms of child labor, or hazardous or exploitative work.”

The program should also provide follow-up services to help young people “secure and retain employment.” It must create partnerships with employers to promote youth employment and “strengthen the capacity of government and community organizations to support relevant vocational training and employment opportunities for youth.”

The program is expected to enroll “returned migrant youth” in “vocational training programs through project-establish referral mechanisms.”

Applicants are expected to implement the four-year federally funded project in both countries and dedicate a minimum of $5.5 million to launch the program in each country. contacted the Labor Department for comment on the grant, but no response was given by press time.


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