Nuevas Oportunidades: professional reintegration of returned migrants

The project seeks the economic reintegration of returned migrants. It enables returned migrants to certify the skills they have acquired in the United States or Mexico. After certification, they are supported in finding a job or starting their own business. The project thus consists of three main parts: certification, increasing employability and promoting self-employment and entrepreneurship. It creates a service ecosystem involving institutions such as the Salvadoran Institute for Vocational Training INSAFORP, the Salvadoran Chamber of Tourism CASATUR, the Salvadoran Chamber of Construction and Industry CASALCO, mayors, universities and private companies. A new phase has been approved for the period 2021-2024, including cross-cutting elements such as new technologies. 
Departamento de Guatemala, Guatemala
Departamento de Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
Departamento de San Miguel, El Salvador 
Departamento de Usulutan, El Salvador 
Departamento de La Paz, El Salvador
Departamento de San Salvador, El Salvador
Departamento de Santa Ana, El Salvador
Project duration
2018 - 2024

The project

The project addresses one of Central America's most urgent humanitarian crises. In 2018, 195 790 migrants from the countries of the Northern Triangle of Central America were forced to return to their countries of origin, a 38.5% increase from the previous year. With the US government's stricter policy on illegal immigration and the end of temporary protected status for 195 000 Salvadorans, this number is expected to increase further in the coming years. This is compounded by the decline in remittances from the United States, which are vital to the survival of many families in El Salvador. As economic opportunities in their home countries are limited for those returning, many run the risk of engaging in criminal activities or trying to emigrate anew.

The project not only creates income opportunities for migrants in their home countries, but also contributes to the economic development of the region, as many returnees have acquired valuable skills abroad. These skills increase the competitiveness of existing businesses and enable migrated people to increase their income or become entrepreneurs themselves.  

Phase 1 of the project began in 2018 with activities in El Salvador. In 2018 and 2019, the first activities were carried out in Guatemala and in the coming years, the project will also be implemented in Honduras.

Project goals

  • Developing and disseminating models for certifying the skills of returned migrants in the construction and tourism sectors
  • Forming public-private partnerships that facilitate the (self-)employment of returned migrants
  • Defining and implementing a mechanism to promote entrepreneurship among returned migrants based on international best practices
  • Reducing the cultural stigma of the returned population
  • Social reintegration of returnees into the national economy should also increase well-being in their family households.
  • Promoting soft skills, financial literacy, reskilling and skills development.
  • Certification of job managers as coaches according to the C4EE method (Coaching for Employment and Entrepreneurship) of Swisscontact

Project partners

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Ministry of Labour


Project progress 2018-2020

  • 417 certified migrants in the construction and tourism sectors
  • 1 job placement model developed, job placement of 62%
  • 44 ventures developed and active
  • 5 skills assessment centres were established.
  • 6 technical work standards for work skills developed with the corresponding assessment tools
  • 55 trained skills assessors
  • 1 model for psychosocial support developed
  • 1 digital application for diagnostic assessment services and personal assessment programmes, job opportunities and creation of a network of certified migrants
  • Labour supply and demand analysis studies (2021) were conducted.

Financing partners

This project is financed by Green Leaves Education Foundation, among other donors. It is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA.  

Project links


El Salvador, Guatemala
Labour market insertion
Podcast Episode on the Reintegration of Returning Migrants
Saul Diaz Ortiz, Regional Director of Swisscontact in Latin America, is addressing the unique needs of returning migrants through partnerships with individuals, communities, government, and businesses. In the podcast VOICES - Conversations on Business and Human Rights from Around the World of the Institute for Human Rights and Business, he details his experience of identifying and boosting the economy of the returning migrants' countries of origin when they are properly integrated into society.
Bolivia, Peru, El Salvador
Upskilling and reskilling, Labour market insertion
Overcoming the Covid-19 crisis in Latin America – How projects have adapted to meet challenges during the pandemic
Innovative solutions are essential to meet the challenges during the Covid-19 crisis. Three examples from Latin America show how the projects Swisscontact implements have adapted to the new circumstances and demonstrated resilience in the face of the pandemic. In El Salvador, complementary carpentry training for returning migrants is being adapted to the new market conditions. Master builders in Peru are developing digital skills in order to improve safety during construction projects. In Bolivia, mechanical engineers designed and developed a respiratory assistance device for families in rural parts of the country.
El Salvador
Entrepreneurial ecosystems, Labour market insertion
The Way Back Home
In the distance, you can see a distorted silhouette with steady and fast movements. The backpack sways from side to side, following the body movement. In it is a single change of clothes, a bottle of water and some cans to stave off hunger. Cities pass by as if they did not exist; it is the need for survival that dictates the pace. After 15 days on the road, "home" seems far away; it gets smaller all the time. It is stubborn hope that drives this odyssey forward, the sore feet make one more effort. It seems that on this trip half the body is buried and the other half is walking.

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