Building on their longstanding commitment to Colombia, President Bill Clinton and Canadian philanthropist Frank Giustra recently attended a commencement ceremony for over 900 graduates of two Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (CGSGI) job training programs in Colombia. The projects include retail skills and construction skills training projects targeted at Bogotá and Soacha residents.

In July 2011, CGSGI, SENA, the National Learning Service of Colombia and CAMACOL B&C, the Colombian Chamber of Construction launched the first on-site skill training and certification program for construction workers in Colombia in Ciudad Verde, a low-income housing development project. The project offers 5,000 construction workers access to free construction skills training courses and certifications in scaffolding, masonry, and blueprint reading, among others. To date, the Project has trained 1,678 workers and has certified another 2,339. At today’s graduation ceremony, 919 of these individuals were recognized.

“I congratulate all of today’s graduates on their remarkable achievement,” said President Clinton. “Each of them represents one of the great promises of our world: that if you work hard and are given the right opportunities, you can provide a good life for yourself and your family. I’m pleased that my Foundation has worked to bring more opportunity to Colombia by helping create more than 2,400 jobs, launching an investment fund for small and medium enterprises, and mentoring small businesses.”

Additional information on this project can be found here.

In the second part of this ceremony, a group of 61 young graduates (ages 17-29) who studied merchandising, customer service, and marketing were also presented diplomas. They participated in the “For a Possible Future” retail job training project, a partnership between the Clinton Foundation, Shakira’s Pies Descalzos Foundation and Gente Estrategica, a private sector training institution. Each graduate will be placed in a retail job; 43 have already been placed in sustainable jobs at companies such as Carrefour, Atacado, and Almacenes Exito. Their education was enabled by President Clinton and Frank Giustra, who linked the low-income students to the training program and provided an opportunity for a scholarship.

The graduating class includes 12 single mothers with average monthly household incomes of under $300. As a result of their participation in this training project, their new jobs will double their household income. The training programs will have a transformative impact on graduates’ ability to provide for themselves — and for their families.

Commenting on the Graduation Ceremonies, Mark Gunton, CEO of CGSGI said, “the projects were testimony to the Initiative’s ongoing commitment to Colombia and showed the importance of multi-sector partnerships in supporting economic growth in the region.”

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