USAID’s approach to private sector engagement empowers Filipino out-of-school youth and local businesses on their development journey
Marlon and Richard are long-time friends and neighbors from Legazpi City, Philippines. Marlon, 24, is the youngest of four siblings raised by a single mother. He dropped out of high school in hopes to follow his passion in dancing. Richard, 20, previously a gang member, lost his mother a few years ago and lives with his older sister. Both Marlon and Richard never knew their fathers.
Similar to many of the 4 million out-of-school youth (OSY) from in the Philippines, Marlon and Richard struggled with their education, training, and finance opportunities.
Tambay po talaga ako dati.
(I was definitely a deliquent.)
(I should've studied. You can't get anywhere if you don't.)
Working together to unlock OSY potential
In order to unlock the full potential of OSY like Marlon and Richard, USAID’s Opportunity 2.0 project established a Youth Development Alliance (YDA) in Legazpi City, and 11 more across the nation. Local governments, community leaders, businesses, and OSY themselves now had a platform to connect their services and policies to support vulnerable youth who are seeking opportunities to improve their livelihoods.
As part of the YDA’s initiative, Marlon and Richard were able to complete the Department of Education (DepEd)’s Alternative Learning System and gained their high school-level diplomas, opening more opportunities for them to pursue further education, get employed, or start their own business.
Making youth work and business ready
In November 2021, they joined USAID’s Opportunity 2.0 program, implemented by Education Development Center, and were trained on work readiness and entrepreneurship skills.
Part of the training to equip OSY with the skills to succeed is to expose them to the real world of work. By being matched with local businesses, OSY get the rare opportunity to receive mentorship from entrepreneurs and hands-on working experiences.
I learned how to communicate
in the workplace.
I found out all about business plans.
Changing mindsets, better businesses
There is a common misconception about OSY, and many businesses would not have considered working with a vulnerable youth. But through engagement with USAID’s Opportunity 2.0 program, more and more people in the private sector are seeing that OSY’s unique grit, determination, and soft skills could also benefit their businesses in a win-win situation.
“You know, I was surprised,” says Abegail Badong, General Manager of Anniesville Condotel in Legazpi City.“ The OSY are honest, have initiative, and are so eager to learn. They’re like sponges, you just show them what to do and they absorb it!”
Marlon and Richard started working as housekeepers and helpers at Anniesville in 2022. Their friendship grew stronger as they overcame similar challenges and are determined to improve their livelihoods through the training program.
I believe people, especially youth, if given the right support, can succeed.
I want to grow my business, of course, but I want my employees to grow with me.
Marlon may not have pursued dancing but is happy that he is able to financially support his mother. Richard is slowly paying back his debts using the earnings of his hard work. They both hope that they can pursue a university degree someday and start their own families with the new opportunity that they received.#
About this story
Through its Opportunity 2.0 project implemented by Education Development Center, USAID has been able to support Youth Development Alliance in 12 cities in the Philippines, reaching more than 17,000 vulnerable out-of-school youth.
With this mechanism, youth gain easier access to opportunities for further education or training that lead them to better jobs and business start-ups. The private sector is an integral part of the Youth Development Alliance. Through the Alliance, both youth and business are able to mutually benefit.
This program contributes to the U.S. Government’s initiative to promote accessible quality education and training for all as well as to expand inclusive and market-driven growth.