With more than half of Hondurans younger than 25 and the majority of the population living in poverty, young people need access to employment opportunities. Yet, too many Honduran young women and men face dismal economic prospects with 27 percent of youth not in education, employment or training. Compounded by the impacts of climate change and food insecurity, those who cannot find jobs are at risk of falling further into poverty or migrating elsewhere in search of opportunities.
The challenges faced by young people in Honduras have a significant impact on mental health. The stress of job insecurity and financial instability, as well as the stigma associated with unemployment, can exacerbate feelings of worthlessness, anxiety and depression. The vicious cycle of poor mental health further hindering employability is not easy for young people to overcome. Addressing both the economic and mental health needs of youth in Honduras to promote holistic well-being and development is critical.
Creating spaces for youth employability
To increase access to mental health support and strengthen the capacities of young people, Lutheran World Relief has launched the Creating Spaces for Youth Employability (CREE) project in western Honduras alongside our local partner Red Institutos Comunitarios (Red-ITC). This collaboration builds upon the work of our previous project Youth in Agribusiness: Ensuring the Employment of Tomorrow through which we emphasized climate change adaptation while improving income and job opportunities in the agricultural sector for youth within Honduras’ Dry Corridor.
The CREE project will train at least 1,100 young participants from 22 municipalities in seven departments of Honduras. In addition to supporting life skills and context-relevant work competencies, the project will prioritize the use of information and communication technology for employability and entrepreneurship. By piloting an innovative virtual platform, Empleando Mentes (or “Employing Minds” in English), the project will integrate technology and extension services to support holistic well-being. The Empleando Mentes digital platform will connect young people with livelihoods assistance and online community while providing personalized virtual psychosocial support.
Addressing mental health issues can be a tough topic to discuss, but necessary to support employability and the education sector. There is a strong demand to know digital tools, and we still have time to address this issue to ensure that young people have a role in the economic life of the region.
Technological innovation through the CREE project furthers Lutheran World Relief’s history of leveraging technology to promote sustainable livelihoods. For example, in Mali, we partnered with NASA Harvest to bring valuable satellite imagery data to government agencies and farmers for informed decision-making about crop management. Through the Maximizing Opportunities in Coffee and Cacao in the Americas (MOCCA) project, we developed Cacao Movil (Mobile Cocoa), an open-source mobile app that provides cocoa farmers across Latin America with critical technical resources for improved crop quality and yield. In Peru, we also established the VenInformado digital platform to inform and guide migrants and refugees on legal, livelihoods and health issues, reducing the gap in access to information and promoting sustainable solutions for local integration. We are using the successes and lessons learned from VenInformado to guide Empleando Mentes in Honduras, while expanding critical mental health programming.
Piloting Empleando Mentes and advancing the CREE project involves coordination and partnership at the municipal level with local government, cooperatives and the private sector. Internships will be arranged with local companies while job training is validated with our partners to ensure that it is responsive to the needs of the companies operating in western Honduras. Young people who wish to pursue their own enterprises after completing training will also be to apply for seed capital to launch their venture.
Our priority is to improve the lives of young people in the western sector of Honduras, training them in life skills and technical skills and supporting them so that they can navigate more easily in the working world.
Lutheran World Relief is committed to supporting Honduras’ next generation, focusing on technology, mental health support, private sector collaboration and improved market systems to advance stable and prosperous opportunities within Honduras.