THE LATEST: Learning for Life Program offers hope and opportunity in Colombia

Success Story
by Paola Paternina Chicre

Since 2016, DIAGEO, one of the main premium beverage companies in the world, has worked with Tanager to implement its Learning for Life initiative in Colombia. Diageo and Tanager identified the need of developing a project in Colombia that would contribute to increasing tailored training opportunities and employment generation for vulnerable groups such as women, youth, afro-descendants, indigenous people, victims of the conflict. The program employed a differential approach and formed alliances with different stakeholders. Accordingly, both organizations joined technical and financial efforts to implement initiatives to create training and economic opportunities for these vulnerable groups.

Eliana Leaña Valverde lost her husband to armed conflict and was left raising her children alone .Thanks to Diageo’s Learning for Life Program – implemented by Tanager – Eliana was able to access educational opportunities that fit her schedule as well as psycho-social support to help her regain her life and career.

The partnership between DIAGEO’s Learning for Life and Tanager was aimed at providing technical training for work and employability skills to young people that would allow them to overcome socioeconomic barriers to access formal jobs. In 2016, the first phase of the program promoted the economic inclusion of 200 people in Barranquilla and Cartagena. The second phase of the program implemented in 2017 succeeded in placing 600 young people in jobs. And finally, the third phase, which began in January 2018 and ended in December 2020, aimed to benefit 750 vulnerable youth in Bogotá, Barranquilla, Cali, and Medellín.

The project worked in coordination with educational organizations to provide technical training and soft skills required to close human capital gaps in the focus cities. It also involved the participation of staff from DIAGEO Colombia, who volunteered for the project and provided these young with training in sales, marketing, and resilience skills.

Throughout these three years, the project developed partnerships with the private and public sectors to create more employment opportunities for young people, with special emphasis on vulnerable populations in each city. As a result, the project leveraged more than COP 2.57 billion through partners such as the Alliances for Reconciliation Program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and ACDI/VOCA, the Secretariat for Social Integration of the Bogotá Mayor’s Office, Fundación Texmodas, and the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce, and training centers such as Centro INCA, Ciudad Don Bosco ETDH, Gente Estratégica CFT, and Universidad del Valle.

Originally from Venezuela, Michelle migrated to Colombia in 2018 in search of better opportunities after being unable to continue with her studies in her home country. Her job skills training has been sponsored by Altipal, where she later went on to do an internship.

This work was especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the International Labor Organization, the pandemic has disproportionately affected educational and employment opportunities for young people. During the pandemic, the implementation of the project has continued, following the prevention measures decreed by the national government, and adapting the training processes, the graduation ceremonies, and the follow up for job placement in Medellin, Bogota, Barranquilla, and Cali.

As a result of the project’s implementation, more than 980 young people graduated as labor technicians in fields such as logistics and marketing, table and bar, kitchen, and administrative assistance. Of these young people, 768 were in Bogotá, 120 in Medellín, 57 in Barranquilla, and 54 in Cali. Additionally, 921 young people were placed in jobs, including 658 women, 156 Afro-descendants, 112 victims of the conflict, 36 indigenous people and 22 LGBTIQ+, and more than 143 companies linked to the project through the hiring of participants, including companies in DIAGEO’s value chain in Colombia such as Altipal, Dialsa, and Dislicores.