Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Corruption charged in delivery of youth employment program scholarships

State-based federal officials have denounced a range of corrupt practices in the delivery of the government’s youth employment program.

Delegates in Aguascalientes, Campeche, Chiapas, Guerrero, Nayarit, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, Tabasco and Yucatán all say that some young people enrolled in the “Youths Building the Future” program are handing over part of their 3,600-peso (US $183) monthly scholarships to their employers in exchange for waiving their obligation to show up to work.  

The officials told the newspaper Milenio that the moches – cuts or kickbacks – paid by the youths to companies and other organizations registered as employers in the program range between 500 and 1,600 pesos per month.   

They also said that in some cases, employers are withholding part or all of the remuneration to which apprentices are entitled.

Tabasco delegate Manuel Merino Campos said that authorities have detected 140 companies that engaged in illegal acts in connection with the program. All of them lost their accreditation to participate in the scheme, he added.  

Merino said more than 200 young people in Tabasco filed complaints stating that companies charged them unjust fees to participate.  

As a result of the corruption allegations, the program has been temporarily suspended in the Gulf coast state.

Guillermo Díaz Robles, the Sonora director of the employment program, said the participation of 18 companies in that state has been terminated after it was discovered that they too were charging their apprentices fees in exchange for employment. However, no legal action was taken against them.

Another 12 Sonora companies are under investigation, Díaz said.

Guerrero delegate Iván Hernández Díaz told Milenio that the intention to implement the same practice was detected in the state’s Sierra region although it was civil society organizations rather than companies that planned to collect fees from their young employees.

However, authorities intervened to put an end to the plan before it started and revoked the organization’s authorization to take part.

In Yucatán, the federal government’s social programs coordinator said authorities will carry out an audit of the employment scheme’s operation to ensure that young people are actually attending the jobs and training to which they have been assigned.

“There are companies that have told the young people . . . to give them a part [of their scholarship] and don’t [worry about] showing up . . .” Joaquín Díaz Mena said.

In Nayarit, Chiapas and San Luis Potosí, authorities have detected the presence of ghost, or shell, companies that have registered in the “Youths Building the Future” program in order to recruit young people and provide them with sham employment opportunities.

In San Luis Potosí, cases have been detected in which the “employed” youths and the phony companies split the scholarship resources equally, delegate Teresa Pérez Granados said.

The claims of corruption within the youth employment program come less than a week after the Labor and Social Welfare Secretariat said it had reached its goal of giving scholarships to a million young people.

However, whether that number of people are actually engaged in active employment is now in doubt.

The states in which the highest number of ninis (ni trabajan ni estudian) meaning “they don’t work, they don’t study” have enrolled in the scheme – whether they are actually working or not – are Chiapas, Tabasco, Veracruz, México state, Guerrero, Michoacán and Mexico City.

The states with the lowest take-up are Baja California, Baja California Sur, Nuevo León, Aguascalientes, Sonora, Coahuila and Colima.

Baja California Sur delegate Víctor Castro Cosío said that the program’s rollout in the state “can be considered a failure.”

He explained that only 3,000 signed up for the program while authorities were hoping to attract 11,000 would-be apprentices.

“. . . We didn’t reach our goal, we think, because many young people here preferred to look for work elsewhere, as the 3,600 pesos a month didn’t seem like a lot.”

Source: Milenio (sp)

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