The Citi Foundation and the Garden of Hope Foundation are collaborating to help more young people find jobs.
The collaborative effort starts this month in New Taipei City, Taichung and Tainan, offering vocational slots for young people.
Statistics from the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics show that the average unemployment rate last year was 3.7 percent, but in terms of age, 11.54 percent of 15-to-24-year-olds were unemployed, a statistic similar to what was seen in the 2008 financial crisis.
Photo courtesy of Citi Taiwan
The Garden of Hope Foundation said that over its 30 years of service, it has seen youths who are forced to sustain themselves financially due to teenage pregnancy, being a victim of rape, having run away from home, or coming from a dysfunctional family.
These children are often exploited at work due to insufficient knowledge of their rights under the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), the foundation said.
People younger than 16 cannot be employed with labor and health insurance, it said, adding that people with only a junior-high school certificate are considered the equivalent of having graduated from elementary school.
About 111,000 teenagers aged 15 to 19 entered the workforce in 2017, with 70 percent of them receiving less than NT$25,000 per month, the foundation cited statistics as saying.
A young woman who wished only to be known as A-pao (阿葆) said she became a mother at the age of 19 and on top of that, shouldered the burden of financing the family.
As she was unable to afford a babysitter on her monthly salary, she said she had to take her child with her to work, and not many people wanted to hire a young mother with a child.
She started work at a betel nut stand, which offered a monthly salary of NT$26,000 and four days off per month, but was fired a year later.
Young people like A-pao are faced with uncertainty, as their job is not guaranteed and their salary cannot cover daily expenses, much less allow them to start saving, the foundation said.
A girl nicknamed Chia Chia (佳佳), who said she was no stranger to the dilemma of work and study, as she started working in junior-high school to provide for her tuition and living expenses. The family’s finances were unstable because her father was handicapped and her mother suffered from bipolar disorder.
A girl nicknamed Jung Jung (蓉蓉) said she had started working when she was 14, but never really understood what kind of work she was more suited for.
Jung Jung said she attended the foundation’s youth work program, which allowed her to learn about many different jobs.
The program also gave her the opportunity to set up stalls at various events and helped provide a platform for her, Jung Jung said, adding that she is about to take up the challenge of being a speaker at the foundation.
To resolve youth unemployment across the world, Citibank has established youth fostering programs worldwide, aiming to nurture young people’s skill sets and enable them to obtain a job to which they are suited, thus further advancing society and contributing to their development.
The Pathway to Progress program, launched in 2015 by the Citibank Foundation, is one such program. The program’s goal is to assist young people in developing their potential and finding suitable jobs. People aged 16 to 24 are eligible for the program, which helps fosters skill sets and offers consultation for employment.
Citibank Taiwan’s Government and Public Affairs Center director Pan Ling-chiao (潘玲嬌) said that Citibank Taiwan has been investing in youth fostering programs since 2016.
“We hope to make it easier for youths to find jobs and allow those without the means to have an opportunity to turn their lives about,” she said.
Citibank began collaborating with the Garden of Hope Foundation and extended the program to include female teens, allowing them to have the opportunity to be financially independent, she added.
Citibank and the Garden of Hope Foundation finalized plans for the collaborative project last year, and has, this year, launched the “Master Your Own Fate” project with funding provided by the Citibank Foundation.
The project provides aid and consultation, as well as intern positions, allowing those who require guidance to find their own path, Pan said.
Industries and chain stores collaborating in the project include Happy Hair; shops supporting the disadvantaged under the Garden of Hope Foundation; Kuronoya Ramen restaurant in Taichung; the B&Q branch in Taichung’s Beitun District (北屯); and the Leather Square workshop in Tainan.
The Garden of Hope Foundation offers daycare services to allow young mothers to focus on the courses.
The “Fateproject is separated into three sections: offering camp activities to foster skill sets, courses and internships; helping the youth become more in tune with themselves; and offering a range of vocations selected according to the strengths of the individuals.
The program offers courses in peer interaction, building self-confidence, emotion management, team building and problem-solving, and coping with certain situations at work, while speakers are invited to share their experience.
At the suggestion of the Garden of Hope Foundation, the program also includes basic financial management courses for young people to encourage good saving and spending habits.
The courses aim to teach them how to cope with unforeseen consequences and how to manage financial conflicts should they lose their job.
The Garden of Hope is also providing one-on-one workshops for young people regarding gender education and how to handle romantic relations, and to help young people form a positive and upbeat set of values.
The Citibank Foundation said it wants to help make a progressive society and help the disadvantaged, adding that it has invested in the concept of inclusive finance, helped foster youth capabilities and participated in urban restructuring projects.
Citibank added that it believes in the principle of “more than philanthropy” and is willing to use its resources to be a part of progressive society via innovation, leadership and influence of professionals.
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