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GEN. SANTOS CITY, Philippines- YouthWorks PH, a workforce development partnership between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Philippine Business for Education (PBS), launched on Tuesday in Gen. Santos City with the goal of providing skills training opportunities to over 4,500 youth in the city and the province of Sarangani.

“Through this partnership, USAID and PBEd are embarking on a nationwide campaign to advocate increased employment opportunities for youth, especially for those who are not in school or working,” said Thomas LeBlanc, director of USAID Philippines Office of Education.

The project works with local partners from government, industry, and academia to equip nearly 40,000 young Filipinos all over the country with valuable life skills and work readiness training so that they are better prepared for the workforce, LeBlanc said.

PBS Executive Director and YouthWorks PH Chief of Party Lovelaine Basillote said that in three years, YouthWorks PH aims to train over 4,500 youth in Gen. Santos City through short-term training sessions on employability and work-based training opportunities.

Apart from teaching thousands of young Filipinos skills on getting a job, the project recently signed agreements with KCC and Alsons Aquaculture Corporation to place at least 500 youth from Gen. Santos City and Sarangani in YouthWorks PH’s flagship work-based training programs. These technical-vocational courses provide on-the-job learning opportunities in masonry, carpentry, welding, electrical installation, electronic product assembly, plumbing, refrigeration and airconditioning, bread and pastry production, and cookery. Prior to their in-company training, the trainees will be attending the Gen. Santos National School of Arts and Trade and the New Brighton School as part of the program’s in-school component.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show that in the Philippines, the youth unemployment rate is currently at 14.1%. In the Soccsksargen region where Gen. Santos City is located, about 1.3 million are unemployed and out of the labor force. For young people, 27.5% of urban youth are either unemployed and out of the labor force and the figure is at 23.8% for rural youth.

“As we launch our project in Gen. Santos City and Sarangani, we in YouthWorks PH hope to model a system that will help the hardworking, high-potential youth to get relevant training and employment. We thank our private sector partners and invite other companies in the region to work with us in achieving our goal of helping young Filipinos find employment,” Basillote said.

YouthWorks PH was launched in June 2018 and rolled out in the Greater Manila Area, Cagayan de Oro City, Cebu City, Zamboanga City, and Iloilo City.

“The commitment of local businesses, schools, and government partners across the country – particularly here in GenSan and Sarangani – demonstrates the power of coming together to advance our shared development goals and improve opportunities for youth,” Le Blanc said.