Technology for employability in Latin America: Research with at-risk youth and people with disabilities
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Since the early 1990s, there has been an increasing interest and investment in information and communication technology (ICT) training centers designed to expand employability options for socially excluded groups in Latin America. This study examines programs that provide basic computer training for people with disabilities and at-risk youth. Based on primary research in five countries (Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Venezuela), we discuss the landscape of issues around technology and employability and investigate how ICT training impacts the employability concerns of two populations with diverse needs and histories of social and economic exclusion. Our findings are broadly divided into three segments. We first examine the environmental factors that impact such projects, including the aspirational environment and the discourse of technology. We then discuss the short-term impacts of these programs, including the creation of pathways to employment, community-building, as well as impacts on self-esteem and stigmatization and the potential of mismatched employment expectations from access to these programs. We finally turn to factors that influence the success of such programs including cost, certification, and accessible technology.
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