Published on April 14, 2021

Ecuador: Promoting Youth Employment and Social Inclusion during COVID-19

On March 25, 2021, "Impulso Joven Talks," an event organized by the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion of Ecuador, took place with the participation of specialists in employment, entrepreneurship, and education. This virtual space for dialogue and learning directed towards young people had more than 200 attendees virtually.

The Minister of Economic and Social Inclusion, Vicente Taiano, highlighted the importance of implementing plans and programs focusing on strengthening the most vulnerable population's social and economic inclusion. “Impulso Joven Talks” focused on supporting young people who were strongly affected by the pandemic and are seeking to recover their lost livelihoods.

Daniela Arias, National Coordinator of the Project "Expanding Social Protection for Youth in Informality," participated in ILO's representation. The conversation supplied by Arias focused on the scenarios and challenges to promote youth employment during COVID-19. Arias emphasized the need for continuous training programs as an integral part of public policy to encourage young people's participation in the formal labor market.

Additionally, Arias talked about the negative impacts of informality in Ecuador by stating: "Informality makes labor rights invisible as informal workers can't access the necessary social protection against occupational hazards, they don't have unemployment insurance or retirement on an old age, as well as benefits such as parental leave, vacations, and sick leave."

In Ecuador, informality among young people has increased by ten percentage points in the last five years. Recessions or economic crises, such as the one generated by COVID-19, tends to affect the young population more severely. The SDG Joint Fund program in Ecuador has focused its efforts on promoting the transition of young people to formality. Arias explained that the Joint Programme seeks to develop innovative tools that allow young people to be a part of the contributory social security system and improve their opportunities to access decent employment.

The speakers who participated in this event addressed, among other topics, the challenges of education in the various limitations generated by confinement and social distancing, as well as possible solutions and tools to strengthen the system. Here, innovation and entrepreneurship were a central part of the interventions.

Further, the speakers addressed topics related to the future of work and job prospects for young people. Maximiliano Núñez, Project Director at Nexos for Competitiveness and Society, emphasizes the importance for young people to have soft skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and teamwork orientation. He states, "hard skills will get you interviews, but soft skills will get you the job.”

Susan Engel, Advisor to the Border Program of the German Cooperation Agency (GIZ), spoke about the importance of public policies on facilitating and promoting youth employment and amplifying entrepreneurship initiatives. Young's people's primary concern is having employment opportunities in decent conditions, as shown during the territorial initiative for sustainable development and culture of peace, carried out by the German agency in the provinces along the northern Ecuadorian border.

The event concluded with the speakers collectively agreeing on the importance of young people having the necessary tools to be an active part of the labor market and contribute to building a better present and future for them and the country. In this sense, Ecuador’s JP implements actions and develops strategies focused on giving access to training and services that help promote the transition of young people to formality. Finally, the program aims to strengthen the national social protection system's institutional capacity to protect this vulnerable population and improve their access to labor rights.