Work for Reconciliation

Providing Workforce Development for Youth and Populations Affected By Armed Conflict


ACDI/VOCA Colombia Work for Reconciliation Youth Job Training

Workforce Development Promises Social Mobility in Colombia

One in two people living in the Barranquilla work in the informal economy, shining shoes and cleaning houses, according to …

Background Narrative

Colombia is home to roughly two million conflict victims under the age of 26, who often find themselves excluded, vulnerable, and with little formal education or access to professional opportunities. The unemployment rates for vulnerable populations are higher than the national average of 9.8 percent. Conflict victims experience an unemployment rate of 20 percent, while unemployment rates are 18 percent for ethnic minorities, 16 percent for women, and 12 percent for youth. Each of these groups face multiple barriers to formal, high-quality employment.

Under the Work for Reconciliation Program, with funding from the GOC, Diageo, Alcaldia de Bogota and in partnership with the Program of Alliances for Reconciliation (PAR), ACDI/VOCA is using its employability model to work with youth that are conflict victims that often face multiple barriers and obstacles to access formal, quality employment. In addition to forging alliance with the private sector, the project conducts assessments of economic sectors with the greatest potential for growth and unmet demand. Young people receive specialized technical training in these sectors and learn soft skills to help ensure they obtain work at the end of their training. The program has offered courses in administrative support, financial and accounting support, cooking skills, call center training, dressmaking, marketing and sales, baking, networks and telecommunications, distribution, port operations, hotel reception, information technology, and bank customer service. The programs is working with vulnerable populations in Barranquilla, Cali, Bogotá, Santa Marta, Cartagena, Montería, Riohacha, and Pereira.

  • Improve vulnerable populations’ soft skills and ability to enter the workforce
  • Increase alliances between the public and private sectors
  • Foster a sense of inclusion between populations affected by Colombia’s armed conflict
  • Coordinate with local and national entities and promote strategic alliances with government entities, including ministries and mayors
  • Promote strategic alliances with the private sector and strengthen relationships with allied businesses, guilds, and other entities that share the program’s vision of promoting workplace inclusion and improving vulnerable populations’ quality of life
  • Coordinate with social and civil society organizations to spur the active participation of leaders and collective action networks and empower vulnerable populations to participate
  • Provide technical training in soft skills to vulnerable populations in major Colombian cities
  • 3,270 vulnerable youths receive technical training to gain access to formal employment

As of October, 31, 2017, the project has achieved the following:

  • 1,700 students have signed contracts with companies for internships or formal job opportunities and seen their incomes increase.

Funder: Government of Colombia’s Department of Social Prosperity, Diageo, Alcaldia de Bogota, USAID
Budget: $5,000,000
Contact: Yamil A. Roger Nasser at