Broadening career opportunities in Guatemala

 Evelin, Daniel and Sasha are graduates of Munijoven’s English training programme.
Evelin, Daniel and Sasha are graduates of Munijoven’s English training programme. Photo: Silvia Ma. Aragón. UNDP Guatemala.

Evelin Quevedo, Daniel Vargas and Sasha Saraí are around 20 years old and share the satisfaction of having reached their common goal: find a job by mastering a second language. After six months of hard work and dedication learning English through the Munijoven project, they were awarded their certificate of achievement and now work in various bilingual call centers in Guatemala City.

“I took on a big responsibility”, says Daniel, “because I was working and studying at the same time. I enjoyed the challenge and hope opportunities like this will keep coming my way so that I can get better jobs”.


  • Guatemala’s young people represent 70% of its 14.7 million inhabitants.
  • More than 50% of them do not finish high school and 64% of those employed do not have proper contracts or social protection.
  • More than 12,800 young people in Guatemala City took part in various skills training programmes and workshops, thanks to a UNDP-supported project funded by Italy.
  • The project has developed partnerships with 64 businesses and organizations.

The project is led by the Municipality of Guatemala City, with UNDP’s support and funding from the Italian Government. Its main objectives are to create academic opportunities and to help young people from the city’s most deprived areas find employment.

To date, more than 12,800 young people have taken part in training and workshops on subjects ranging from English, IT, tourism, gardening, arts and crafts and cooking to customer service. Sixty nine percent of participants signed formal employment contracts as a result of the project.

Sport and recreation are also encouraged within the framework of the programme. Guatemala City’s local football training club offered free coaching to 5,000 boys, girls and young people aged between 5 and 17, and the city’s music school trained 630 students.

According to the National Human Development Report 2012, Guatemala’s youth represent 70% of its 14.7 million inhabitants, and 51% of young people do not finish high school. Opportunities are unequally distributed and depend on, among other things, socioeconomic status, area of residence and ethnicity, says the Report.  Worse, 64% of employed youth do not have a proper contract or social protection.  

The Munijoven project aims to give young people from deprived areas the opportunity to break through. “Thanks to the project, I have been able to acquire the level of English required for working in a bilingual call center. I now have a job and I am able to earn more than I could ever have earned without this skill”, says Sasha, who was interviewed immediately after graduation by various call centers contacted by Munijoven.

With UNDP’s support, an employment strategy is currently being developed within the city’s youth policy, to create better economic, training, health and recreational opportunities through public-private partnerships. Companies such as Pizza Hut, the BAC Credomatic Group, the Guatemalan bank Banrural, the restaurant chain Pollo Campero, a local furniture retailer Cemaco and San Martín Bakery have already joined the initiative.

“Business participation is a key part of this process, since the main goal at the end of the training is to integrate young people into the labor market [as soon as] they have successfully completed the Munijoven programme,” says Ana Gabriela De León, UNDP’s Programme Officer for Poverty Reduction and Social Investment. “The process goes beyond economy and society, it also plays a role in self-esteem and personal satisfaction.”

Evelin, Daniel and Sasha agree that they wouldn’t be where they are today without this experience. Learning a new language made them feel more confident about their future. “If you’re committed from a young age, gradually you can become whoever you want to be”, says Daniel.

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