CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA-Caterpillar Inc. announces a $4.5 million Caterpillar Foundation investment in job training directed at disadvantaged youth in Latin America and the Caribbean. The pledge toward the New Employment Opportunities or Nuevos Empleos y Oportunidades (NEO) is part of the Foundation's three-year, $10.5 million investment that was initiated last year to support the International Youth Foundation (IYF) job training program.

"What we're announcing today is a commitment to directly train youth in Brazil, Mexico, Panama and Peru," says Bill Lane, Caterpillar's Washington director who represented the company at the IYF announcement in Colombia. "It's simple really. More skilled workers are needed in these regions. These countries have unacceptably high levels of unemployed youth. We are confident that by providing life and technical skills as well as mechanical training to the youth in these regions that it will open doors that may have otherwise been locked. Whether they become a diesel mechanic who works on a Cat machine or a laboratory technician in a hospital, the goal for these young men and women is sustainable employment that will set the stage for better things to come."

The 10-year goals for the NEO include training one million disadvantaged youth using models that incorporate best practices of job training programs, achieving job placement rates of at least 50 percent for its graduates, ensuring that half or more of the youth trained are girls and young women, and mobilizing 1,000 companies to offer internships and employment opportunities for youth.