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Dual education system in Mexico: Promoting economic opportunities for youth in the context of violence?

This project is part of a cross-programmatic effort at IDRC to improve understanding of the linkages between youth engagement, violence, and economic opportunities in Latin America in order to support evidence-based policies in this area. It will be carried out in Guanajuato, Mexico, a highly industrialized and increasingly violent state, and in particular in the city of Leon, where sustained economic growth and heightened demand for employment co-exists with increasing levels of violence and organized crime. This offers an ideal context to examine whether economic opportunities can contribute to reducing violence among youth, and if so, under what conditions.

The project focuses on understanding how dual education can adapt to become more inclusive and responsive to the specific needs of youth exposed to higher levels of violence. Dual education systems combine vocational education in selected secondary schools and apprenticeships delivered at the workplace through a mentoring mechanism. In the case of Leon, dual apprenticeship programs have a ten-year history associated with the expansion of the local economy, and focus principally on the metal mechanic, automotive, and shoemaking industries. Dual education systems aim to reduce the disconnect that many secondary education systems experience with local economic realities, increasing the retention of students in the system as well as their future employability. The project also aims to contribute to wider regional programmatic efforts on the links between youth, violence, and economic opportunities.

The Guanajuato chapter of the Confederación Patronal de la República Mexicana (the Mexican Employers' Association) will coordinate the project. Two large educational organizations providing dual education in the State of Guanajuato will participate, as well as researchers from Universidad de Leon’s School of Sociology. The Latin American Social Sciences Institute of Costa Rica will provide coordination for knowledge synthesis and exchange, dissemination strategies and policy uptake, accompaniment in the methodological design and analysis of results, and will nurture a connection with similar projects.

The research will consist of a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods focused on private sector employers, institutions providing dual education, and students that participate or have participated in the dual system. The project includes a strong dissemination and knowledge-sharing strategy targeting Mexican policymakers, key stakeholders, regional governments, academics, and practitioners.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
18 months
IDRC Officer
Nicholas Benequista
Total Funding
CA$ 169,200.00
Democratic and Inclusive Governance
Governance and Justice
Centro Patronal De León
Institution Country
Project Leader
Jose Espinal Betanzo
Centro Patronal De León, S.P.