An international nonprofit organization is using ACT solutions in Honduras to increase the quality of the country’s workforce to meet employer demands for higher skill levels.
Over the next two years, Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) will test up to 15,000 individuals in Honduras with the Spanish-language version of ACT WorkKeys® assessments and expects to award the ACT International Career Readiness Certificate™ (ICRC) to at least 11,000 of them.
EDC is targeting people ages 16 to 29, who are considered at risk. This includes students about to graduate from high school, high school graduates who cannot pass college admission exams or who are working at entry-level jobs, and those who have not completed high school.
Each year in Honduras nearly 100,000 students (58 percent) do not complete ninth grade, and 125,000 (75 percent) do not finish high school. Sixty-seven percent of the population in Honduras is younger than 29 years old.
“We are helping young people who have limited access to education and training opportunities improve their foundational skills and demonstrate those skills to postsecondary institutions and employers,” said Ana Carolina Rubi, workforce development specialist, EDC.
EDC supervises administration of ACT WorkKeys assessments in Honduras’ three largest cities – Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and nearby municipalities, and La Ceiba—and expects to expand to other regions. The organization is focusing on areas that have high violence incidence rates, as young people living in such areas are often exposed to gangs and other criminal activity, said Gustavo Payan, project director, EDC.
“We want to reach out to them with training and certification. We have found that every successful intervention with at-risk youth helps build their self-confidence and empowers them to become productive citizens,” he said.
The organization currently operates 38 test centers and plans to open approximately 30 more over the next two years. The United States Agency for International Development is sponsoring the project.
EDC officials are promoting the value of WorkKeys and the ICRC to Honduran employers in major sectors, such as textiles, tourism, and construction. “Like other areas of the world, Honduras is experiencing a gap between the skills workers have and the skills employers are requiring. Employers want workers whose skills have been certified,” said Payan.
EDC is also partnering with higher education institutions to bridge the gap between education and workforce. Every year, thousands of students fail to pass admission exams required for university entrance. EDC is using Spanish-language ACT KeyTrain® curricula to help students improve their skills, which is leading to considerable increases in admission exam scores. KeyTrain, an interactive learning tool, helps students master the applied workplace skills defined by WorkKeys.
“The ACT tools are helping Hondurans improve their skills and gain access to higher education and employment,” said Payan.
WHAT IS EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT CENTER?
Education Development Center (EDC) is a global nonprofit organization that designs, delivers, and evaluates innovative programs to address some of the world’s most urgent challenges in education, health, and economic opportunity. Headquartered in the United States, EDC conducts 250 projects in 23 countries around the world.