Published on January 25, 2021

Ecuador launches the School of Data initiative: A collaborative diagnostic on young people in informal employment

Twenty-eight young people from the cities of Quito, Guayaquil, Machala, and Loja presented their collaborative findings and diagnostics on informal work, as part of the first edition of the School of Data program. The initiative is part of the Joint Programme: "Expanding the social protection system for young men and women in the informal economy," implemented jointly by the ILO, UNDP, and UN Women.

UNDP's Acceleration Lab led this learning space in collaboration with open data civil society organization Datalat. Through an open call, 28 scholarships were granted to young representatives from several civil society organizations. The training program's objective was to develop skills to use different tools for information gathering, analysis, and data visualization.

This first edition of The School of Data focused on the analysis of available information on young people in informality, as well as data on precarious employment. During the graduation ceremony, which took place on January 9 of this year, the students presented 5 research projects related to: the economy of care; the impact of COVID-19 on entrepreneurship; the consequences of the pandemic on the youth labor market in rural versus urban areas; labor exploitation before and during the pandemic; and precarious work.

Fernando Adames, UNDP's Deputy Resident Representative in Ecuador, highlighted the importance of the training program, which gave the participants the tools to gather and visualize data for analysis in an effective and efficient manner.

During the course, the students were mentored by ILO, UN Women, and UNDP experts. Further, as part of their commitment to the program, the participants will transfer the knowledge acquired to their organizations, communities, and cities. Additionally, the research results and other studies on informal work will be available on the program's web page in the coming weeks. 

Andrea Quiñónez, one of the participants, considers that young people should take part in finding and constructing solutions to improve their employment opportunities, especially those of women, who have experienced the worst consequences of COVID-19. 

In Ecuador, young people are among the most affected, due to lack of employment in the formal economy. During 2019, 70% of young people were not covered by the Social Security System, according to data from the Ecuadorian National Institute of Statistics (INEC, in Spanish).

Data compilation and analysis are fundamental to understand the issue of informality and to support the design of public policies with innovative solutions at the local and national levels. The project intervention's potential is based on the direct link between informality, lack of social protection, and poverty. Focusing on the young population and improving youth workplace opportunities and conditions will contribute to reduce inequalities, raise income, and warrant access to social protection and care services.