July 2013 - Costa Rica
In its mission to protect vulnerable young people through education, RET always has an eye on the gap between education and its applied results. Access to the labour market or other forms of income are one of the multiple benefits of education, but transition from one to the other is sometimes challenging. In Costa Rica, thanks to the support of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, RET focuses its attention on those who need employment as a means to continue studying and on those who dream to set up a small business.
In an ideal world, young people could devote all their energy to their studies. Reality can be harsher. For a vast majority of refugees, earning an income to support their families is an obligation. Access to the labour market is thus not always an end in itself; it is often a precondition to continue studying. RET sees employability in the context of a broader life plan. In order to benefit from the social mobility brought by education, displaced young people must first find the right balance between studies and income generation.
Access to jobs, which offer the financial stability necessary to study, is essential. Through tailored trainings, RET in Costa Rica provides the required skills to insert vulnerable young people in the labour market.
The trainings are based on three main components. The first provides an understanding of how the labour market works. The second concerns social interaction within the professional world. Finally, the third is an overview of the legal framework. It reviews the rights and obligations of workers with a special focus on the legal status of refugees.
RET does however recognise that some learners are more keen on becoming entrepreneurs. For this as well, specific skills are needed.
Typically, entrepreneurship trainings are all about revenue, investment, supply and demand, profits, etc. It is not to say that this is not important; it is. RET however recognises that motivation and belief in one’s capabilities are also driving forces behind all income-generating projects.
The trainings take these human factors into account, which is probably what makes them incredibly successful. The participants are highly motivated to better define their strengths and weaknesses, discover their desire to innovate and feel that it is possible. Being an entrepreneur is just as much a state of mind as a technical matter.
RET understands the different situations, strengths and aspirations of its beneficiaries. For some, a job is a necessity in order to continue studying. Others do not dream of access to the labour market, but rather aspire to enter the market place as business owners. Education is the key to social mobility and integration, it must however be tailored to the needs of each learner.