Project Factsheet
Tools for » Joint Programme on Youth, Employment and Migration: A One-Stop Shop for Youth Employment
Project ID:00067213Description:MDGF-1938-H-CRI Youth, Employm
MDG Achievement Fund
Start Date *: 31 Dec 2008
MDGF Youth Employ & Migrant
End Date*: 15 Nov 2012
Country: Costa Rica Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   Multiple


The recent worldwide economic crisis has significantly increased unemployment among Youth. In Costa Rica, in 2009, 21% of the young population was considered poor. In 2010 unemployment rose and so did the general poverty level of the country. The Joint Program “Youth, Employment and Migration” aimed at providing better opportunities in access to decent labour to young people (15 to 35 years old), specially to the most vulnerable groups such as women and migrant population, mostly being Nicaraguan people (constituting 71% of the foreign population living in Costa Rica.)

The JP was thus developed around two outcomes: one for coordination of public policies and institutional capacity development for youth employability and entrepreneurship, and the second which aimed through a holistic approach to effectively improve the socio-economic and formative conditions for the targeted youth in Nicaraguan border cantons of Upala and Desamparados.

The programme largely achieved its results at the local level: three Attention Office Point E (Ventanillas de Atención Punto E) were created with an Integral Approach Model (MAI) to assist 3,278 vulnerable young people in the target areas to promote employment, employability and entrepreneurship; 25 youth organizations matched the demand of the services required by young people as service providers in Upala and Desamparados. Under the labour component 633 beneficiaries were counseled in labour management in both cantons; capacity development of public servants was undertaken and a module to develop local strategies for collaboration between municipalities and the employment sector with focus on youth was established.

Under the entrepreneurship component a wide range of activities was undertaken. Some specific examples include 129 youth who were given financing for their enterprises, 512 youth were trained to develop business plans, and the Canton Upala has a business incubator that will benefit 50 youth and give them access to the benefits of the National Entrepreneurship Policy “Costa Rica Emprende”, and, some 200 public servants and private sector actors received training.

Under the migration component a “migration route” was established providing information and funding to young migrants. 752 young migrants were assisted to regularize their migration process and access services to improve their quality of life, 329 benefited from information from the “migration route” to be able to follow up on their migration procedures. Of these 95 already obtained their visa. The education sector was also involved under this component as a training manual on interlculturalism in schools was developed and used to train 120 teachers from MEP (Ministry of Education) and 90 teachers from vocational training schools (INA).  An agreement between the MEP and the Nicaraguan Chancellery led to the recognition of the consular identification card as a valid identification document.

Under the education component, educative strategies promoting English knowledge among 308 students and promoting retention options to avoid abandonment of secondary education were implemented, and 2 schools were equipped in ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), one in each canton, providing training to 207 youth in ICT. At the policy level, a Technical Norm for Labour Competency was developed to adjust the formal technical education to market needs with two new specialties: Control and Productivity, and Management. This model can be permanently used by the MEP.

Under the first outcome, at the national level, a major result was the development of EMPLEATE (employ yourself), a public-private initiative implemented by the MTSS (Ministry of Labour and Social Security) that seeks to employ disadvantaged youth and received public funding of 20 billion colones (local currency). 6,000 young people benefited from the programme, 2,000 have been trained and 250 already found employment. The economic sustainability of the EMPLEATE has been guaranteed through an Executive Order. 11 Attention Office Points were established by MTSS at the municipal level for EMPLEATE. At the national level the main lines of the Youth Employment Plan were agreed upon by the various actors.

In addition to the two outcomes, an additional component was added to the programme, called “CUIDO”, a child-care programme for working mothers. Attention to, approximately, 5,867 children was provided, and several  guidelines were produced and distributed to 24 public establishments. In addition, 24 staff were trained to assist children in Care and Development Children Centers, 18 young women trained to professionally assist minor people.


Outcome 1:

Migrant youth and women in vulnerable situation in the cantons of Upala and Desamparados have an integral programme of attention (ventanilla) that provides access to opportunities and services that improve employment, employability and entrepreneurship.

Outcome achievements:

  • Under the MAI a range of various complementary activities were undertaken. From the 3,278 youths assisted (2,059 women and 1,219 men), 808 with a high vulnerability index received an individual development plan and 2,505 improved their employability through technical and vocational training, management skills, English, etc. and complementary services such as scholarships. Another 994 youth were trained in business development; 189 actually developed their own business, from which 129 were able to receive financial support.
  • Some 1,000 Nicaraguan youth in irregular migrant situation in the two target cantons received counseling and migration advice as a result of which 764 have now an information card.
  • Platforms to facilitate access to services for employment and training opportunities were created in the selected communities. MEP and INA are platform leaders which developed new attention and functional models to include rural and marginal youth who are excluded from the educational system. These models gave rise to some new forms of attention such as the pilot project on Educational Reinsertion in Desamparados that targets youths excluded from the educational system.
  • The Socio-educational Management Unit of Upala municipality took fully on board the MAI that is now a part of the municipal structure and will count with its own budget as of January 2013.


Outcome 2:

Coordinated and coherent policies and strengthened capacity of public institutions to improve employability and entrepreneurship of youth.

Outcome achievements:

  • The strategy of EMPLEATE is based on five mutually-supportive axes: 1) exploration, 2) employability, 3) orientation, 4) mediation, 5) insertion. The five axes are articulated through three programmes of the MTSS and local governments: Attention Office EMPLEATE, “Avancemos más” (Go Further), Por Mí (For Me).
  • It seems that the EMPLEATE strategy emanated from the National Youth Employment Plan, based on a previous diagnosis of the evolution of the sector.
  • Based on the design of the Information System for Young Persons (SIPJ) in the two JP cantons, the first step of the Information System of EMPLEATE was developed.
  • At the National level EMPLEATE is now a priority strategic undertaking of the MTSS, and has human and material resources and a strong inter-sectoral articulation.


Best practices:

  • Opening of an additional Assistance Office (Ventanilla) south of Desamparados Canton greatly facilitated the work, as people were not able to access the municipal office of that canton, although it was not in the original design of the programme.
  • The inclusion of migration, identification and information on regulation of the migratory process as a component of the JP, in response to the demand from the youth migrant population in the target areas.
  • MAI brought some innovative aspects across the sectors looking at an integral response to vulnerable youth and included a vulnerability index to assess the status of youths in a given geographical area, thus allowing the identification of basic needs and policies over the short, medium and long term.
  • The introduction of the “Entrepreneurship Focus” as a methodology composed of 3 gradually evolving phases 1) entrepreneurial culture, 2) nascent entrepreneur 3) new entrepreneurs.
  • The baseline study allowed to carry out a proper diagnosis and proved to be a key aspect to focus on developing and incorporating mechanisms to support vulnerable youth.
  • From the Attention Office (ventanilla) the participation of the private sector in the various activities allowed to develop linkages and generate resources to support the activities, while youth were able to obtain direct contact and information from potential partners, buyers and employers.


Lessons learned:

  • During the JP design process all national actors and participants should be incorporated in order to jointly establish the design, particularly local government institutions as priority actors.
  • There was a dialogue and reflection mechanism at the technical and programmatic level that was discontinued, as it was thought to add no value. But experience shows that on the contrary these meetings allowed for deeper knowledge and understanding of the technical and political aspects, and contributed to synergies amongst counterparts for implementation.
  • A better selection of participants is required in line with the identified needs in the selection tools to avoid participants abandoning the programme and contribute to yielding higher benefits.
  • It is important to develop specific methodologies in accordance with the target area covered by the JP, particularly considering the differences and access difficulties between urban and rural communities.
  • UN agency coordination, and coordination within the government, are strategically important.


More details can be found in the final project report:

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