Miguel, decent work and the importance of orientation

Miguel lives in Argentina, he is 22 years old. School has always cost him and he hasn’t finished high school yet. He dreamed of being a footballer, he tried but it was not possible. He works fewer days than he would like and the money he earns is not enough for him. He lives for the day, he doesn’t know if tomorrow he will be able to eat. Its economic situation is very unstable. Since childhood, he has lived with his father and his brothers in a precarious house in a poor and dangerous neighborhood.

Get paid for every day worked; Performs loading and unloading of goods. He has no fixed days or hours, he has no formal contract and he has no benefits. From his experience, he knows that it is not easy to find another job, and even more difficult to find one in which he can evolve.

He once had a “good job”, but it didn’t last long… He still remembers it with nostalgia. Also, like Miguel, his family is unemployed and currently working in informal jobs.

Miguel is not happy and his future does not look motivating. How can you help young people like him to build paths that make sense? How to support them to promote integration into quality jobs that promote social inclusion?

This is not exclusively an individual problem, but social, cultural, economic and political factors also come into play. Many disciplines could contribute to this.

Among them, guidance practices and interventions seek to create the conditions to broaden the horizon of possibilities, committed to social justice, seeking to promote people’s well-being and living conditions.

A universal aspiration

Miguel’s experience is not an isolated case. Poor working conditions often affect individual well-being and self-esteem. They influence what one believes one is capable of doing and one’s hopes for change. At the same time, we know that the paths and expectations for the future in decent and lasting integration – both professional and social – offer greater margins of freedom, emancipated lives and broader horizons.

In this sense, the International Labor Organization and the United Nations intend above all to promote decent work.

What does decent work mean? These are access to productive activities with fair remuneration, job security and social protection, opportunities for personal development and social integration, freedom to form trade unions and equal chances regardless of gender.

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge, and a lot has been discussed and studied on the subject from different angles. States include in their agenda specific public policies aimed at promoting decent work. However, to date, it is an unmet goal and a debt not fully paid. No one doubts the good intentions pursued by these objectives, but they come up against economic, commercial, union, social, cultural and political interests.

The reality of young people

In Argentina, 37.3% of people are in a situation of poverty and 8.2% of them in a situation of indigence. Half of the children and young people are poor.

Similarly, about a third of the population carries out work activities in the informal sector. Underemployed make up more than half of workers.

There is a relationship between the level of education attained and the chances of obtaining a job: 36.2% of those who have not completed their secondary education cannot find a job. Among young people who work, 1 in 4 does not go to school. In turn, half of those who go to school and work at the same time have repeated at least one year of schooling.

The data allow us to conclude that the possibility of obtaining a decent job is hindered and conditioned. Miguel’s story represents that of many other young people who struggle to find work that allows them to have access to resources for their subsistence and their autonomy, to have hope, to feel that they do something useful and think about a life to grow professionally and personally.

Rethinking utopias: the place of orientation

Guidance is an intervention device and an appropriate social practice to contribute to the debate and provide solutions to the problems presented so far.

It is obvious that to move towards the effective realization of decent work, multiple actions and changes are necessary. On a personal, collective and community level, the objective is to help young people like Miguel to build their own lives and become the protagonists of their stories.

In Argentina, various social organizations – Universities, NGOs, Politics and Public Programs – seek to engage every day in solutions for these young people. From the orientation, critical thinking is stimulated about oneself and about the possibilities offered by the contexts in which the future is projected and insertions are given, recognizing opportunities, situations of oppression and injustice .

In the interventions, it is sought that young people identify and critically value their knowledge, reflect on their intentions, organize and plan their training and work paths and build possible strategies to achieve their goals. Also, that they recognize their realities, possibilities and obstacles, to identify the resources that allow them to be faced. The impact is very positive.


All of this is necessary, but not sufficient. It is necessary to deepen the design and implementation of orientation policies and programs that network at the economic, social, cultural, professional and educational levels to accompany the personal, educational and professional trajectories of people.

The challenge is to move forward in transforming utopias into achievable goals.

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