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Tourism sector training prepares youth for success on Nicaraguan islands
For youth on the Corn Islands, about 40 miles off the coast of Nicaragua, work can be sporadic, rising and falling with the arrival of tourists to the beautiful beaches. But a group of motivated young people are now better equipped to pursue steadier careers in the hospitality and tourism industries, thanks in part to USAID's Aprendo y Emprendo workforce development project.
In partnership with the Superior Council of Private Enterprise and the National Tourism Chamber of Nicaragua, Aprendo y Emprendo (known in English as the Technical Vocational Education and Training Strengthening for At-risk Youth project) offered a professional certification program to teach key job and "soft" skills, including positive customer service, collaboration and quality management. The 36 graduates earned a "Service Best" certification, which is recognized throughout Central America. Of the group, 26 have found new jobs or been promoted. The remaining 10 plan to pursue entrepreneurship in the tourism sector.
For graduate Shiera Richarson (left), her new job as a restaurant waitress is the first time she has worked an eight-hour, regular schedule. “I have learned to make decisions for myself, to solve situations myself and to discover that there are things that I can solve without bringing the issue to management,” she says. “In the future, I see myself as a hotel manager in Corn Island.”