Connecting to the work force: the case of young people in a low-income community of Rio de Janeiro

Written by Malcolm Bush on January 23, 2007 - 5:43pm

The International Labor Organization (ILO) has recently
expressed its concerns about young people around the world experiencing weak
connections to the adult world of work.
The ILO believes that in southern tier countries the major issue is the
supply of jobs. But workforce issues,
the skills of young people and their connection to job markest are also
important. In 2005 the Lula government in Brazil
echoed these concerns with the launching of its Pro Jovens program designed to
subsidize employers who provide jobs to youth.
A new study written by Malcolm Bush, Woodstock Institute president and board member of the International Center for the Study of Childhood (CIESPI) at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, using data generously provided by the Rio based
Instituto de Estudos do Trabahlo e Sociedade, points to the problems facing
young people in one low-income community in Rio, Caju,
but also to the diversity of the young people´s educational and work
experiences.

The study, based on a sample survey of over 800 young people between the ages of 10 and 24 and their parents, shows the relationship between various aspects of young people´s lives. Education is a key to employment and within this one low-income community there are important variations in educational attainment.
  • -Young people whose parents can read or have themselves completed ensino fundamental or grade school are more likely than other young people to be one year or less behind grade level or to have not failed a grade.
  • -Failing a year at school was related to being male and to having a higher number of other young people living in the household.
  • -Young people overwhelmingly blamed themselves, not the quality of the schools in their community, for failing at school. Young people overwhelmingly blamed their incapacity to learn for the chief reason for failing at school.
  • -40% of young people who were working had a work card. Not surpisingly, older youth were more likely to have a work card than younger youth. But also young people who had completed ensino fundamental were more likely to have a work card than those who had not.
  • -Younger youth were more likely to work in their own communities, older youth outside their communities. This finding suggests that the level of economic activity in low-income communities is an important condition for helping young people establish their work lives.
  • -Most young people found their first jobs through family and friendship networks. While this finding indicates the richness of such connections in low-income communities, it suggests that youth from low-income communities could well be disadvantaged in finding work in the formal economy outside their neighborhoods.
  • -There is growing concern in Brazil about the number of young people who are neither involved in work or schooling. A much higher percentage of young women, (35%) than young men (17%) in the Caju sample fall into this category, a difference explainable by the young women who had children of their own or other domestic responsibilities.

This research, which will soon appear in its complete form on the CIESPI web site, complements a major CIESPI project, Connecting Youth in Low-Income Neigborhoods in Rio de Janeiro to Work. This CIESPI project, funded by FINEP and coordinated by Alexandre Soares, examines strategies for improving such connections with a special concentration on five low-income communities in Rio and in the context of community economic development.

For more information contact Malcolm Bush: mbush@woodstockinst.org and Alexandre Soares: Aleprofisional@yahoo.com.br