El Salvador—Puentes para el Empleo (Bridges to Employment Project)

Client: U.S. Agency for International Development

Duration: 2015-2020

Region: Latin America and the Caribbean

Country: El Salvador

Solutions: Economic Growth

Many young people in El Salvador’s high-crime communities face impossible choices for livelihoods among gang coercion, underemployment, and expensive, dangerous migration. At the same time, networks of committed people are engaging youth in positive development activities and working to grow the country’s economy and strengthen the educational systems and institutions that could offer viable alternatives to gangs and crime.

These champions face epidemic violence, challenges in institutional capacity, a complex political and policy environment, and disjointed coordination at local and national levels. The result is a system that struggles to offer all Salvadoran youth positive pathways to meaningful social inclusion offered by economic stability and rewarding work.

Through Puentes para el Empleo, DAI supports USAID in El Salvador to link youth—including young women and vulnerable populations—to basic social resources of work, knowledge, security, and social capital in order to foster inclusion through employment opportunities. By identifying and building on existing knowledge and networks, Puentes para el Empleo will convene Salvadoran champions for youth inclusion, optimize their performance, link them to one another, and link youth to them in order to facilitate pathways toward employment.

Sample Activities

  • Improve the enabling environment for workforce development and employment.

  • Strengthen the system of training and employment services.

  • Enhance the workforce readiness of youth.

Select Results

  • Trained 600 staff members of training centers and civil society organizations—including instructors, administrators, job placement specialists, psychologists, and social workers—to improve the quality and relevance of services provided to youth.

  • Introduced life skills curricula in 24 training centers.

  • Created the Fair Programming Initiative to ensure the inclusion and fair treatment of vulnerable youth who provide software development services as part of the global IT value chain.

  • Provided technical assistance to companies to modify hiring, selection, and employment practices to better support youth in the workplace.



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Essor acts at meso (business associations) and macro (government) levels to improve the incomes of the poor through the development of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), including women- and youth-owned and ones in rural areas, through reforms to the country’s investment climate and policies.

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