NEW ROCHELLE, NY (June 23, 2014) Salesian Missions has highlighted some of its youth workforce development programs in response to a recent United Nations (UN) report, which states that half the world’s population is under the age of 25 with close to 90 percent living in developing countries. According to the report, half of all young people in the labor force are either unemployed or part of the working poor. Many lack the education and skills training required to find meaningful livable wage employment.
Salesian Missions is the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, which is widely considered the largest private provider of vocational and technical training in the world. Programs focus on helping vulnerable youth in some of the poorest places on the planet by providing access to educational opportunities that match the local workforce development needs. This work directly impacts that areas of need identified by Secretary U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“I believe employment and decent work, particularly for young people, are the backbone of development. Yet we are facing a great test of our time—an epidemic of youth unemployment. In countries rich and poor, unemployment rates for young people are many times those of adults—and, of course, joblessness is the tip of the iceberg.”
In remarks to the UN International Labor Organizations in Geneva, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon urged governments as well as trade unions, employers’ organizations and the private sector at large to invest more in youth employment initiatives and engage with youth-led organizations. He also called for organizations to empower youth to obtain the skills necessary for employment and stressed the need for more gender equality in the workforce.
Working in more than 130 countries around the globe, Salesian missionaries focus on education and workforce development at more than 850 Salesian-run vocational, technical, professional and agricultural schools and programs. Youth are given the practical skills to prepare for meaningful employment while learning how to lead productive lives and become contributing adults in their communities.
In response to the UN Secretary General’s call-to-action, Salesian Missions has highlighted some of its programs dedicated to youth workforce development.
Salesian-run Don Bosco University in San Salvador, El Salvador, made significant strides in its aircraft maintenance program. For the first time in the company’s history, FedEx donated a Boeing 727 aircraft to the university last July. The donated plane is providing hands-on training tool for hundreds of aviation students at Don Bosco University. Students will have the opportunity to take skills learned in the classroom and apply them while learning about the mechanical aspects of large aircraft. Don Bosco University has also has entered into a cooperative agreement with Broward College in Davie, Florida that will further the aviation program at the university.
Located in eastern India, the Don Bosco Self Employment Research Institute in West Bengal is helping poor youth break the cycle of poverty by educating and rehabilitating school dropouts and providing them with access to livable wage employment and self-employment opportunities.
The Institute offers several vocational training programs including electrical house wiring, fabrication and welding, garment making, refrigeration and air conditioning, construction and information and communication technology. These programs are offered to both new students and those who have been working in their trades for years but have never received a formal education. Many are in need of updated training and additional certification in order to receive promotions or advance their own businesses.
Salesians at Don Bosco Fambul in Freetown, Sierra Leone, have been running a Girls Shelter for the past two years. Here, professional social workers and pastoral workers provide crisis intervention and follow-up care for girls and young women who have been the victims of sexual assault. Girls that access services at the shelter are also able to enroll in educational programs that are a part of the broader Don Bosco Fambul network. These educational programs train young women in the skills necessary to find and retain employment. As part of their rehabilitation at the Girls Shelter, the young women take coursework in hotel management, hairdressing and tailoring. The training helps to empower them to overcome the discrimination they have faced and gain a greater awareness of their rights. It also helps to build character while allowing the young women the freedom to make decisions that affect their lives, improve their health and boost their work prospects.
To meet the needs of the millions of out-of-school youth, Salesians in the Sudan are working to educate poor youth and provide them a path out of poverty. The Salesian-run Don Bosco Technical School in El Obeid, the capital of the state of North Kordofan in southern Sudan, has been providing services and educational opportunities for poor youth since 2001. Since its inception, more than 1000 youth have received education, training and workforce development services. Don Bosco Technical School offers a variety of programs to best meet the needs of the youth it serves. Soon after the school opened, one-year intensive training programs began in auto mechanics, general mechanics, welding, electricity, building, carpentry and plumbing. These programs trained students to become qualified professionals, ready to join the workforce. And with career counseling and job placement services provided once students complete their studies, close to 70 percent of the more than 600 graduates of these programs have found stable employment in their chosen fields.