A More Promising Future for Poor Youth in the Dominican Republic

April 8, 2014


With joint World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) support, authorities in the Dominican Republic successfully implemented a Youth Training and Employment Program (PJyE) that provided technical/vocational and life skills training and on-the-job internships to poor, at-risk youth. The program had positive impacts, including increased earnings and better quality jobs among participants. The authorities also implemented the country’s first temporary employment program targeting poor unemployed adults.

Challenge

Dominican youth, particularly the poor, face structural barriers to labor markets, including insufficient education, poor life skills, and weak job skills to transition from school to work. Exacerbating this already precarious situation, a banking crisis that unfolded in 2003 decreased even further the chances of youth to enter the labor market, particularly among the poor and unemployed. This was demonstrated by the disproportionate increase in youth unemployment, which rose by roughly a third between 2003 and 2005 to reach 31% for ages 15-24, as compared to 17% for the population at large.

Solution

The Dominican Republic Youth Development Project responded to the urgent need to provide more opportunities to disadvantaged youth from poor families and with little schooling. The Project was part of a larger effort of the authorities to strengthen the country’s social protection system and was complementary to a series of operations being financed by the World Bank and the IDB.

The Project had a two-fold strategy:

  • First, it focused on improving the employability of poor, at-risk youth by building their work experience and life skills through training and on-the-job internships.
  • Second, it supported the expansion of second-chance education programs aimed at providing youth and adults the opportunity to complete their formal education.

A temporary employment program targeting poor, low skilled unemployed adults was added in 2010 to help Government authorities address widespread increases in unemployment in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis

 


Results

Results of the intervention included the following:

  • Over 38,000 at-risk youth benefited from the PJyE, with the overwhelming majority living in the poorest areas and more than half women.
  • Over 3,000 private firms offered internships to PJyE graduates, providing trainees with valuable on-the-job experience.
  • Results from a rigorous impact evaluation show that program graduates had a higher probability of acquiring a formal job and a larger income, particularly among women. Teenage pregnancy rates were also lower among participants.
  • A total of 600 power generators are now providing electricity to 350 schools offering second-chance education programs that previously had to rely on candles or gas lamps for lighting.
  • The second-chance basic education curricula and supporting instruction materials were redeveloped under the Project and used to prepare the Quisqueya Aprende Contigo Literacy Program, a presidential flagship program that enrolled over 700,000 adults in 2013 alone.
  • A total of 3,920 low-income, unskilled long-term unemployed adults completed training under the country’s first temporary employment program. They gained work experience in selected projects managed by non-profit organizations and municipalities, including maintenance of physical infrastructure such as street and drainage maintenance and cleaning of public parks and watersheds.

Bank Group Contribution

The World Bank contributed US$25 million to this project, which had an overall cost of US$50 million.

Partners

The Ministry of Labor, the National Training Agency (INFOTEP) and the Ministry of Education implemented the Project. INFOTEP’s strong institutional capacity was a critical element in ensuring the successful implementation of PJyE. At the same time, the Project helped expand INFOTEP’s traditional focus beyond training of employed, formal workers to include unemployed youth.

The IDB and the World Bank collaborated closely, supporting complementary operations focusing on enhancing the efficiency of labor markets in the Dominican Republic. There was also strong coordination between the supervision and evaluation teams of the two institutions in the framework of the PJyE.

Moving Forward

Two new operations financed by the World Bank (Flexible Employment System Project) and the IDB (Support the National Employment System) continue to support the Government’s efforts to foster the employability of vulnerable population groups, particularly unskilled youth, as well as the development of labor market institutions.

The PJyE was awarded, among other recognitions, Best Practices in Youth Policies and Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean by the United Nations Development Program and the World Bank. The Ministry of Labor has disseminated widely the lessons learned in the implementation of the PJyE among other countries in the region.

Beneficiaries

Between 2008 and 2013, 38,000 young people between the ages of 16 to 29 benefited from the Youth and Employment Training Program run by INFOTEP. 60% of beneficiaries were women between the ages of 18 to 20. 95% of the beneficiaries were living in extreme poor areas, as classified by the national poverty mapping. 45% of the female beneficiaries had at least one child, and 55% were single.

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700,000
adults were enroled in the Quisqueya Aprende Contigo Literacy program in 2013


PROJECT MAP