Practice Details

Title of Practice: (Re)entering the Labour Market: Empowering men and Women Living in Poverty
Year: 2014
BPTag: Best Practice
Reference Number: ARG139-14
City / Town / Village: Buenos Aires
Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
Country: Argentina
Has this practice been submitted previously? No
Previous Title:
Address: Fundación Tzedaká
Av. Santa Fe 1821, 3°
Ciudad de Buenos Aires
Phone: 0054 11 4811 1430
Fax: 0054 11 4811 1430 ext. 114
Name of Contact Person: Betina Rosental
Email of Contact Person: Betinar@tzedaka.org.ar
Summary: The changes in the argentine labour market have left a complex scenario characterized by social fragmentation, unemployment, job precariousness and underemployment. As a consequence, many people living in vulnerable situations, who lack of specific tools and resources to become productive members of society, and who are unable to enter labour market and remain in it. In the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires (Argentina) many young people and adults come from families that have been excluded from the labour market for more than two generations. Women are particularly affected by this situation as they have more difficulties to get jobs which are compatible with their children’s school time. This situation affects not only their socio-economic situation, but also their socio-emotional well-being and stability. As a result, their possibilities to break the cycle of poverty are very narrow.

Taking into account this social and economical scenario, the project “(Re)entering the labour market: empowering men and women living in poverty” by Fundación Tzedaká is aimed at young people and adults, specially women, who live in extreme vulnerability, in the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires. The project addresses social inclusion through a holistic approach consisting in two main axes: 1) job training and employment guidance and 2) socio-emotional skills empowerment

Given this approach, the first line of action is oriented to promote the effective inclusion of the beneficiaries in the labour market through the promotion of specific tools and skills which include: computer literacy; tools for searching for jobs, to pursue their own jobs and to face an interview, among others. On the other hand, we address socio-emotional skills, which are related to behaviour, personality and self perception. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) detected recently that these type of skills are a key component regarding employability of young and adults, but they are not usually taken into account and less frequently promoted by social education and social programs. We seek also to empower the beneficiaries through the improvement of their self-stem, self-respect and emotional stability in order to be able to keep a job and continue growing both personally and professionally. This dimension of the project takes into account the singularity of each beneficiary and the fact that each one of them has its own personal history and background, which demands us to pay attention to diversity. Considering this fact, we have a personalized follow up of each beneficiary with the purpose of strengthening their emotional well-being, which is carried out by mentor volunteers.

The project has had some important results regarding social inclusion, especially considering women. Our beneficiaries experience both a personal and professional improvement which allows them to break the poverty cycle. Furthermore, the new opportunities given to the beneficiaries encourage a multiplying effect which tends to the better development of families, communities and, therefore, of the whole metropolitan area.
Key Dates: 1. 2005: Project launch 2. 2007: First cohort finishes the Programme 3. 2010: Winning award. Development Marketplace, World Bank 4. 2011: First alliance with local government 5. 2013: The project reaches 326 participants
Norminating Organization Details
Name of Organization:
Contact Person:
Type of Organization: Foundation

There are no partners defined yet.

There are no categories defined yet.

Situation Before the Initiative Began:
Almost 1/3 of Argentina’s population inhabits in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires: around 12 million people. The area has tremendous social and economic inequalities, and poverty affects different social groups, including women and young people. The area is also characterized by the precariousness and informality of its labour market.
Establishment of Priorities:
Before launching the project, a diagnostic process was implemented by team members, specialists recruited by Tzedaká, local government and potential beneficiaries. As a result of that diagnose and our years of experience in this area, the priorities of the initiative are the following three:
1) Socio-emotional empowerment and well-being of the beneficiaries during and after the programme.
2) Tools and skills: computer literacy, job seeking skills and employment orientations
3) Gender equity, considering poor women as our priority target group.
Formulation of Objectives And Strategies:
The objectives and strategies of the initiative were established through a deliberative process leaded by team members and specialists recruited by Tzedaká and including consultancy with local governments and partner organizations. Throughout these years, the objectives and strategies were partially modified regarding changes in the needs of our beneficiaries and the local labour market. We carried out surveys among the participants regarding their particular interests, abilities and needs and considering the results we adjusted our training offers and the characteristics of the socio-emotional empowerment guidance.

Objectives/Lines of action
1) Encourage the effective inclusion of vulnerable young people and adults, especially women, from the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires in the labour market through the promotion of job oriented tools and skills.
2) Improve the socio-emotional well-being of vulnerable young people and adults, especially women, from the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires.

1) Job training and employment guidance
2) Development of socio-emotional skills.
3) Gender focus considering women’s particular challenges.
Mobilisation of Resources:
The project has mobilized many financial and human resources since it was launched in 2005. The programme is funded mostly by donations and subsidies. The project has received so far 6 different subsidies and grants from public, social, private and international organizations:
2007/09: ABN Amor Foundation (229.000 Euros)
2010: World Bank (45.000 US Dollars)
2011: Province Bank Foundation (24.141 USD)
2011/14: Buenos Aires Local Government (334.211 USD)
2012/14: JPMorgan (37.000 USD)
2012: Diageo (21.428 USD)

The financial resources of the project are managed by our team leaders, which are mostly women, jointly with our partners. Fundación Tzedaká is the last responsible and accountable for managing the project’s resources.

As this project needs highly skilled human resources, subsidies are needed to cover professional fees. The project is also possible thanks to our volunteers; specialists in their respective fields, they act as consultants. The following key actors participate in the project:
- Organization team: lead and manage the project and its financial resources
- Social workers: work together with beneficiaries both in groups and personally to improve their socio-emotional skills and well-being and provide general and employment guidance
- Job trainers: train the beneficiaries in specific trades and general job skills
- Mentor volunteers: successful professionals who advise and guide the beneficiaries to bring them closer to the job market.
The main problem faced by the initiative is the stability of the beneficiaries in the programme. Many participants take temporary, informal and precarious jobs from time to time (in Argentine they are known as changas) in order to have access to little amounts of money in the short term. That puts at risk their continuity in the programme, which focuses on the participants’ well-being in the middle term.

Regarding women, many of the female participants have little or none existent family networks to help them taking care of their young children so they can assist to the activities of the programme. In order to solve these problems, social workers work individually with each beneficiary to be ahead of these situations and find possible solutions in advance. This is also one of our strategies to guarantee labour inclusion with gender equity.

In the project the decision making process we include all the people who are part of the program: organization team, social workers, job trainers, volunteers and participants. Regarding participants we make a survey where we ask them about their abilities, interests and needs and we try to adjust some of the program characteristics taking the results into consideration. As we mentioned, the program is also very concerned in the singularity of each participant and its personal needs.

We assess performance permanently and use it as a tool to improve our work. The follow up of the participants and the surveys give us the possibility of assessing and permanently improving our performance. We both consider qualitative and quantitative indicators so we do not leave out the socio-emotional aspect —key to the project— which, as we mentioned before, cannot be measured with quantitative tools. These are some of the indicators: (1) number of participants that finished the job training successfully; (2) quantity of participants that attended the socio-emotional empowering workshops; (3) number of participants that improved their incomes, their job conditions or got a new job; (4) number of participants that had access to a job interview; (5) socio-emotional aspects which were improved in the participants after the program regarding: openness to new experiences, responsibility, extroversion and social interaction, kindness, emotional stability, self stem, confidence.
Results Achieved:
Financial sustainability: Fundación Tzedaká’s financial resources are mostly raised from donations and subsidies. Currently, our donations raising system is strong and shows constant pace of growth. Fundación Tzedaká is also committed with efficient, transparent and accountable management of financial resources and the organization is periodically audited.

Social and economic sustainability: The programme addresses social inclusion in a sustainable way, as we realize it is not enough to train people to guarantee they (re)enter to the labour market, socio-emotional support to improve their general well-being is a key factor. As a consequence, our beneficiaries are in a better position to be in a stable job position and break the cycle of poverty. The project is also committed with gender equality as we recognize how poverty affects differently to men and women; our personalized approach opens the possibility of attending these diverse situations.

Cultural sustainability: The project is also respectful with regard to cultural diversity. The participants are part of different social groups with cultural specificities and traditions: Part of them is beneficiary of Tzedaká’s social programs and belongs to the Jewish community. Besides, other beneficiaries have Latin American identities and belong to our neighbouring countries —for example, the Peruvian and Bolivian communities that live in the poorest neighbourhoods of the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires—.

Institutional sustainability: Firstly, we build partnerships with local governments, companies, academic and social organizations in order to improve our replication potential and join financial efforts. In fact, the project has already been replicated in the district of Tigre.
Lessons Learned:
1) The need and importance of transmitting the standards and codes that are part of the work environment. As a consequence of being part of 2 or 3 generations which were not able to enter to the labour market, most of our beneficiaries lack of standards and codes that are essential to be a part of the world of work. We realized these need to be made explicit and teachable to allow them to have a real opportunity of effectively become part of the job market. For example, we train them to know what to do in a job interview.

2) The equal importance of both craft knowledge and the socio-emotional knowledge of our beneficiaries. Some of our beneficiaries lack of self-steam and confidence on their abilities; they do not recognize their own strengths and have no tools to express their own emotions and feelings. We realized they need to be empowered in order to be able to keep their jobs once they get an opportunity, and to accomplish that they need some socio-emotional tools to be more stable themselves and be able to achieve happiness.

3) Build strengths out of available resources. We are lucky have modern computer labs (which are scarce in Buenos Aires) that can be used for free by the participants. We turned this key resource into a strength focusing on computer literacy of our beneficiaries. We learnt that being able to use a computer is a requisite in almost every job these days and it is also a tool that allows our participants to close the gap that excludes them from many aspects of social life. We also use the labs to teach them the craft of the management auxiliary that can open (and have opened) numerous job opportunities for the participants.
In Tzedaká we believe in the importance of sharing good practices and coordinating our work with other people and organizations with the same target groups and geographical area. That is the reason why, since the program was launched, we organize periodical meetings with other NGO’s and other public organisms in the social field. These meetings consist in interchanging experiences, the lessons we have learnt and the knowledge we acquired in order to improve our practices and our efficiency. Some of these organizations are: Pescar, Uniendo Caminos, the Social Economy Director from the local Buenos Aires government and the IDB.

Moreover, the program team has been consulted in 2013 by the IDB to inform new legislations on the issue of young employability. As a result we collaborated in the elaboration of a draft legislation specially focused on the problem of young peoples’ employability.
Related Policies:
The problem of young peoples’ employability is recognized by several ordinances and legislation. Both the city of Buenos Aires and the province of Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area) are committed to solve this problem. They support Tzedaká’s initiative and finance part of the program and, as a result, our program is helping to enact a human right recognized in our legislation.

1. “Jóvenes que luchan por un empleo digno”, Noticias positivas, 8/01/2010, available in: http://noticiaspositivas.org/comunidad/jovenes-que-luchan-por-un-empleo-digno/
2. “Una red para mejorar la salida laboral”, Diario Clarín, 23/06/2010, available in: http://www.clarin.com/sociedad/red-mejorar-salida-laboral_0_285571501.html
3. “After 20 years, Fundación Tzedaká is still changing lives”, World Bank Blogs, 14/02/2013, available in: https://blogs.worldbank.org/category/tags/accion-joven
4. “El Senado distinguió a la Fundación Tzedaká”, Infobae, 18/06/2011, available in: http://www.infobae.com/2011/07/18/594318-el-senado-distinguio-la-fundacion-tzedaka

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