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 Education

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 supported the U.S. Agency for International Development in El Salvador to link young people—including women and vulnerable populations—to basic social resources of work, knowledge, security, and social capital to foster inclusion through employment opportunities. By identifying and building on existing knowledge and networks, Puentes para el Empleo convened Salvadoran champions for youth inclusion, optimized their performance, linked them to one another, and linked youth to them to facilitate 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

  • Helped 4,708 vulnerable young people gain new or improved employment.
  • Trained 11,930 vulnerable young people, equipping them with the technical, life skills, and on-the-job training necessary to meet the demands of employers.
  • Assisted 608 young people who had previously dropped out of school to complete their studies and graduate.
  • Built the capacity of 29 training centers, strengthened staff knowledge and capacity, improved institutional infrastructure, provided updated tools, equipment, and materials for learning, boosting data management capacity, and established new job placement services.
  • Formalized 107 alliances between training centers and companies.
  • Helped 56 individual firms take concrete steps to improve the inclusiveness of vulnerable youth and other marginalized populations in their corporate policies and practices.
  • Assisted seven municipalities to create or update municipal youth policies that strengthen the legal framework for the protection, participation, and development of youth in high-crime communities.
  • 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.


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