Training youth, women breadwinners and victims of armed conflict living in rural areas to work in the ICT sector.
After years of armed conflict, Colombia was left with uneven development and job opportunities.
The Colombian countryside is vast and rich in natural resources, but the current economic activities developed there fail to deliver minimum standards of living for the local population. Labor informality can reach up to 90% in rural regions and the average monthly income of a family is of USD200 – around 60 dollars short of the national legal minimum wage. This causes massive emigration to urban areas, where unskilled people will continue to face precarious living and working conditions. To contribute to addressing this situation, Aldeamo, collaborating with IDN and Bogota Institute of Technology (BIT – educational branch of SECTORTIC), counting with the support of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), have developed a project to train and generate job opportunities for women breadwinners, high school graduates and victims of the armed conflict in rural areas and municipalities with high unemployment. These positions will be filled in companies of different sizes from all over the country that require IT services, whose nature of work allows for it to be performed regardless of location, as long as it is done by properly trained professionals with a good internet connection.
The intention is to double the average income of a rural family in Colombia, by providing services remotely, engaging 18 – 25-year-old people and generating income for their families without having to force a physical separation from their relatives or disconnect from their roots. In this way, it is believed it will be possible to increase the average income of a rural family without the need for emigration from the municipality of origin to larger cities. Therefore, whereas companies will have access to well-trained talent at a lower cost than what they are used to paying in urban areas, the new professionals will assist companies with tasks that will allow their employees to focus on higher value and core business activities. In short, the project is expected to: help companies increase their productivity at a lower cost while creating a positive social impact for Colombia; prompt towns to develop more by having a higher investment from the newly-trained workers in local businesses and infrastructure; provide new role models for new generations will want to study and get trained on IT, leaving behind other illegal activities that used to be their only option.
The project’s goals were achieved by:
- Providing technical training for the target groups, so they can perform remote jobs and increase their – and their families’ – income
- Partnering with companies and business associations that have demand for this kind of work
- Providing an online platform to match potential employers with newly trained professionals
The project was carried out in three phases: feasibility study, testing, and full-scale implementation. IDN provided consultancy services and facilitated partnerships to help Aldeamo and BIT carry out the project while complying with NORAD’s guidelines. Its outcomes have immediate and long term social and economic impacts for multiple stakeholders: teleworkers and their families, the municipalities where trained people live, partner companies and Colombian society as a whole.
This initiative has been planned, from the beginning, to become a sustainable and lasting business set-up. We believe that we can have all this impact in local communities by making a small profit from taking advantage of the cost disparity between urban and rural areas in Colombia. The project partners want to test if this type of operation can also apply to other types of IT skills and, if it does, it can change communities and people’s lives.