Jose Maria Gonzalez Perez
This profile was prepared when Jose Maria Gonzalez Perez was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Peridis is using cultural heritage as a basis to create new jobs and institutions that offer unemployed youth an opportunity to learn a trade and make a living while boosting local development. Through Trade School Workshops, which he founded to teach trade skills to unemployed young people, Peridis enables them to find jobs restoring historical sites. Today, Trade School Workshops are funded by government unemployment subsidies and have graduated a half million people, helping almost 80 percent of graduates find jobs. These people are embracing new roles as citizens and contributing to their communities. This is a dramatic transformation for a generation of youth accustomed to living on government unemployment wages. The development Peridis promotes is based on local needs, and ties together community histories and locales in the process. For example, his Foundation of Santa Maria la Real helps people create heritage-based businesses, such as, turning old homes into hotels, to boost local economies. More broadly, Peridis believes having pride in one’s culture and region can trigger the imagination and jumpstart the energy of disengaged youth around the world. For this reason, Peridis’s model is as relevant in Spain as it is in Latin America or Africa, where he has replicated Trade School Workshops, and expanded skills training to include trades such as environmental regeneration, and is exploring the possibility of creating professions in urban rehabilitation.