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.
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