Red Cross scheme in Spain helps young people climb the career ladder

Published: 21 February 2017 8:30 CET


By Andreea Anca, IFRC


When AKI Bricolaje, a DIY company in central Spain, offered Hernin Rodriguez Girlado a job at the firm’s warehouse in January last year, he was relieved to put behind him the long term struggle to find regular work. For the 26-year-old, whose parents divorced after the family moved from Columbia to Spain 14 years ago, a reliable income also means he can provide for his ailing father and school-age brother.


Hernin joined the Spanish Red Cross’s Employment Plan -  a large-scale initiative designed to help people under 30 without formal qualifications develop skills to help them find work.


Spain has the second highest employment rate in Europe. The Spanish Red Cross Employment Plan was launched in 2001 and expanded in 2008 following the economic crisis which hit young people hard, especially those from a poorer background.


Hernin joined the scheme in Toledo in 2013. He enrolled in a series of training sessions related to logistics and sales and had a Red Cross mentor to support and advise him as he prepared for interviews. The Red Cross also liaises between the people on the programme and potential employers. In Hernin’s case, it also arranged for him to have on-site training at the warehouse.


Talking about his professional journey Hernin said: “I did my logistics training at the Red Cross for two months and then I completed one month of practical training at AKI.


“When I got a call from AKI to come in for a job interview, my family was very excited. They knew it was an opportunity to find the stability I was looking for. It was the reward that followed the path I took.”


Tania Escobar, the company’s Human Resources Manager, explained the value of its partnership with the Red Cross: “The great thing about the initiative is that it trains people according to the needs of our company,” she said.


“They come here pretty well prepared on the theory part and get to learn about the day-to-day work with us.”


Between 2008 and 2015 more than 68,000 people found a job through the scheme and more than 195,000 completed the training.


Silvia Bellomo, who runs the scheme at the Spanish Red Cross’s Toledo branch, said:


“We coupled our tailored training with building long term relationships with businesses. An important part of the programme is mentoring the participants through their theoretical and professional training.”


Hernin`s story is part of a series highlighting innovative Red Cross and Red Crescent work from countries across Europe and Central Asia. It is linked to the Social Aspects topic of the Florence Call for Action – a set of commitments made by the National Societies in the region at the 9th European Regional Conference at the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in 2014. For more information, click here.