New Program Tackling Sri Lanka’s High Youth Unemployment

By , Promoting Prosperity Worldwide

VEGA Member International Executive Service Corps (IESC) has been awarded a new VEGA LWA program in Sri Lanka. The four-year program will improve technical and vocational training and increase the employability of young people in the country.

Every year, nearly 300,000 Sri Lankans leave secondary school without a degree or with a degree but not admitted to a university. The country recognizes the need to develop a skilled workforce in order to address the resulting 20 percent youth unemployment.

Under the $12 million YouLead! Program, IESC will create a more skilled and flexible workforce by undertaking activities that support and strengthen students, teachers, and institutions.

For students, we will improve the quality and availability of career counseling, aligning tools and counselor training with in-demand jobs and skills and high-growth sectors. We plan to ensure that high-quality, market-oriented career counseling is equally available to traditionally underserved groups, including rural youth, girls and young women, and ethnic minorities.

For teachers and institutions, YouLead! will work closely with key government ministries and private and public training institutes to design and improve educational and vocational training curriculum, always with a market-driven approach, and will help develop master trainers and counselors.

Finally, this new program will help to foster self-employment by connecting entrepreneurs with financial institutions and leveraging public and private financial resources to support youth entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka.

With this new award, IESC will be back to Sri Lanka, where the organization has worked nearly continuously since 1965 to support private enterprise and workforce development. IESC has close ties with the country and knows the context well. IESC Vice President Charles Conconi will serve as the in-country project director in Colombo.

“This is the perfect time to launch this effort in Sri Lanka,” Conconi said. “With a lot of political momentum and a strong interest in public-private collaboration, YouLead! has great prospects for getting young Sri Lankans employed in good jobs with in-demand skills.”

Volunteers are integrated throughout the program, with a total of more than 5,000 days of volunteer support. IESC is the U.S. industry leader in fielding skilled international volunteers, and our experts are recognized for their experience, preparation, passion, and commitment to market-based, practical solutions. In particular, YouLead! will draw on the many Sri Lankan diaspora volunteers in IESC’s robust database.

IESC is joined on this project by U.S. partners Arizona State University and Global Communities and local partners Skills for Life, Verité Research, American Chamber of Commerce, and Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

The program is funded by the United States Agency for International Development through the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance, or VEGA. Arizona State, Global Communities, and IESC all are members of VEGA.