THE LATEST: Expert Analysis: How Tanager’s co-created project helps youth succeed in Colombia

Expert Analysis
by William Godfrey & Giovanni Cuero

At Tanager, we work with corporations and foundations around the world to co-create projects to improve social and economic outcomes. To honor International Youth Day, Tanager experts William Godfrey and Giovanni Cuero examine Tanager’s approach in Colombia to the co-created project with Diageo’s Learning for Life Program that works with young people to help them succeed in school and life. 

In honor of International Youth Day, a global effort is being made to recognize the role of the world’s youth in driving change and bring attention to the challenges facing young populations globally. This year, International Youth day’s theme is “Transforming Education”, focusing on the role of education in impacting the lives of youth. Tanager, working in Colombia with Diageo’s Learning for Life program, understands the importance of education and training in supporting young people to overcome adversity. Since 2015, Tanager has provided job training and placement services to dis-advantaged young people in Colombia including Afro-Colombian and indigenous youth and victims of armed conflict with the goal of helping them acquire the knowledge, skills, and support necessary to enter and succeed in the job market. Integral to Tanager’s strategy is its dedication to a holistic training program that builds key job skills through practical training and hands-on experience while also emphasizing the development of key emotional and social life-skills participants need to succeed.

As experts in workforce development, Tanager understands that effective training initiatives need to be tailored to the needs of the market. Tanager, working closely with key local businesses, has built a robust job training and placement program which strategically cultivates skills to address the needs of the market and help participating youth to learn through direct market experience. With a network of partners across multiple cities, Tanager collaborates with business leaders to find jobs and vacancies in sales, marketing, hospitality, and office administration, and to identify what skills and experience is prioritized by each employer. Based on this feedback Tanager adjusts its job training curriculum to best prepare the participant for the position in which they will work.

Tanager’s pedagogical approach to job readiness emphasizes practical skill building through hands on application. As part of their job readiness education, participants complete a six-month internship. This allows participants to apply and build on the skills learned through the training period and cultivate real world job experience. Throughout their internships, participants are supported and mentored by Tanager staff to maximize their learning and ensure their success. Once the training and internship is completed, these young people are placed directly into jobs where they immediately benefit from their learning, earning regular wages and building meaningful market relationships to foster future success.

Tanager and Diageo are focused on creating long-term success for its beneficiaries, which involves more than preparing young people to work one job, it is about building a versatile and healthy set of life-skills that promote success in both their work and personal life. For this reason, the Learning for Life program includes modules to develop soft-skills which facilitate effective and healthy workforce interactions as well as the development of life-skills including building and maintaining self- confidence, the values of diversity, gender inclusivity, and sexual education. Working with vulnerable populations, Tanager is dedicated to ensuring that these young people have the social and emotional skills to cope and feel supported as they enter the workforce, many of them for the first time. It is this emphasis on promoting overall health and education which elevates the intervention from a simple job training initiative into a fully holistic youth intervention.

By emphasizing hands-on job training in concert with developing key life-skills, Tanager and Diageo have seen immense success in equipping and introducing vulnerable youth in Colombia into the workforce. Since its inception Tanager and its parent company ACDIVOCA through the Learning for Life program in Colombia have managed to place at risk and vulnerable youth in over 14,554 jobs in 18 cities. Of these beneficiaries, 77% are of Afro-Columbian and indigenous descent and 45% are victims of armed conflict. More than half of those served by the project (67%) are women, like Tatiana Arenas Londoño who received successful job training and placement through the program. For more information about Tatiana, and other young people entering the workforce, follow the links below.

Learning for Life in Colombia: Meet Tatiana

Tanager works for women: Meet Eliana Leaña Valverde

William Godfrey
Sr. Project Coordinator

Will has five years of experience working in international development, three of those with Tanager managing and supporting projects across Africa and India. He works with Tanager’s project teams to plan, implement and track projects to ensure optimal service delivery to project beneficiaries and clients as well as providing support to Tanager’s monitoring and evaluation efforts globally. Will holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations and French from Ursinus College.

Giovanni Cuero
Team Lead, Workforce Development, ACDI/VOCA, Colombia

Giovanni Cuero is an ACDI/VOCA technical advisor with more than 17 years of experience working in Colombia’s public sector and leading international development programs, designing and implementing public policies and fostering economic opportunities and income generation. Over the past six years, Giovanni has lead implementation of Tanager’s Inclusive Employment Model in Colombia, focusing on vulnerable populations (extreme poverty, Afro-Colombians, indigenous people, LGBTIT and victims of the armed conflict) and generating employment opportunities for more than 1,500 youth, $9.1 million in public and private sector funding, and engaging 220 companies. He is an economist, and holds a master’s in Government and Public Policy.