The final 2016 edition of El Machete, the ATC’s quarterly publication, carried the theme of YOUTH. Here we have translated one article into English, written by Mariana Toscana of the ATC’s Francisco Morazán Peasant School and the MJC (Movimiento de Jovenes del Campo, or Rural Youth Movement). You can find the original article in Spanish as part of the full online magazine publication online here.
The ATC Boosting Youth Employability
Written by Mariana Toscana, translated into English by Friends of the ATC
For the past four years, the ATC has been developing a youth employment program. This program was created with the objective of giving young women and men from the countryside competencies that permit them to find employment or start their own business. The program has been taking place through the Francisco Morazán Peasant School in collaboration with the National Institute of Technology (INATEC) and the Swiss Cooperation (COSUDE).
In these four years, the program has carried out forty different courses in Nicaragua, 23 of which have been in Estelí, moving forward the School of Tobacco of ATC Estelí. The program has also had three courses at the Rodolfo Sánchez School in Matagalpa, two courses in Matagalpa, two courses in Masaya, one in Tipitapa, one in León, and the rest at the Francisco Morazán Peasant Worker School in Managua. In total, the program has trained 790 youth, of which 455 were women and 335 were men.
Diverse offering of courses
The courses were carried out on the following topics: production of basic grains, production and commercialization of honey, cacao processing, wine and jam making, coffee and cacao plant nurseries, roasting and milling of coffee and grains, cigar making, screen printing, and management of the home.
One of the criteria for executing each course has been its real possibility of generating employment in the short-term. In Estelí we came to an agreement with cigar companies Valley de Jalapa, Cubanica, and Aganorsa so that within these companies, courses are executed, and the youth in these courses become employed at those same businesses upon completing the course.
These courses in Estelí were convened by ATC-organized unions and tobacco worker families, having a large impact on union organizing and on the youth, having already benefitted around 500 young women and men.
Making coffee, cacao, and honey
In the Rodolfo Sánchez School in Santa Emilia, in the department of Matagalpa, courses developed were for children of local producers, one focusing on coffee and cacao plant nurseries and the other focusing on chocolate making.
Members of the Goyena women’s cooperative in the department of León received training in agricultural processing for their coconut farm, teaching them to produce coconut oil that is now being sold within the department.
In Chinandega, in the community of Cayanlipe, youth were trained in honey production and they now have their own production and commercialization of this product. In the community of Timal in Tipitapa, young women from a cooperative were trained in pickle-making, using the vegetables that they grow themselves.
Organic production and hotels
Also in Masaya, more precisely in the community of Gancho de la Mona, trainings were held for a group of women and men. The courses focused on organic basic grain production which are being locally marketed. In the community of Las Flores in Masaya, a course was given for young women in food preparation and customer service so they could become employable at a small restaurant or start their own eatery.
Taking into account the large demand for workers in the restaurants and hotels in tourist zone of Ticuantepe, a course was executed there with help from the National Hotel School in international cooking, table etiquette, and customer service.
At the seat of the Francisco Morazán International Peasant School, located at kilometer 13 on the Highway to Masaya, community of 4 Esquinas, youth gathered from the surrounding communities including La Concha, San Antonio, Ticuantepe, Tisma, and Palo Solo.
Francisco Morazán Interational Peasant Worker School
These youth participated in courses on chocolate making, milling and roasting of coffee, and home administration. These courses were realized thanks to a collaboration with the National Engineering University’s food preparation area where participants did their practicums.
In addition three courses on screenprinting were developed. Youth from the National Coordination of Retired Officials (CNOR) and the Israel Galeano Association of Nicaraguan Resistance (ARNIG), sister organizations of the ATC, participated in these courses.
Supporting family economies
Through these actions of training rural youth, supported by the government, the ATC is combating unemployment, supporting family business, and strengthening its organization through participation of youth from the ATC.
For the Francisco Morazán Peasant Worker School, this program has meant an expansion of its educational offerings. In agricultural processing, it has established with success practical methodologies of creating value-added products as long-term alternatives for small scale producers.
Looking to do follow-up
It is important to do ongoing follow-up with the course graduates and also to complement these courses with courses on more advanced techniques. These future courses could focus on the quality of production and on commercialization with the goal of improving opportunities of making higher-quality products, generating higher incomes, and being hired with improved salaries.
For young women and men, this program is an alternative of dignified employment that contributes to improve their conditions in the short, medium, and long-term, offering opportunities to train in specific techniques that improve one’s chances in the labor market.