World Bank approves $101.5 million to Sri Lanka for the Skills Development Project

June 20, 2014

An estimated 830,000 Sri Lankan Youth will directly gain job specific skills to join the labor market

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2014— The World Bank today approved a $101.5 million IDA credit to expand the availability of employable workers by increasing access to high quality, labor market relevant skills development programs. The project will open new career prospects for skilled employment that is critical to sustain growth in a middle income country.  

Sri Lanka’s workforce is the most educated in South Asia: about 96 percent of its citizens complete primary school and 87 percent secondary school, and there is gender parity in school completion. Despite a large number of educated young workers, Sri Lanka’s labor market is characterized by high youth unemployment, high underemployment, and considerable informality. Although the overall unemployment rate declined from 9 percent in 2000 to 4 percent in 2012, about 20 percent of 15–24 year-olds were still unemployed in 2012.

While a good job can move a family out of poverty, a right job can transform the entire society” said Francoise Clottes, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives. “Over 50 percent of firms state that the system does not produce skills that are relevant. Moreover, about 33 percent consider the lack of adequate skills as one of the major constraints on operating and growing their businesses” she further added, outlining the current challenges of the labor market that the project seeks to address.

This Project supports the Skills Sector Development Program (SSDP) launched by the Government of Sri Lanka as part of its Public Investment Strategy for 2014-16. “We are pleased to support the Government program that reflects its commitment to skills development necessary to achieve goals set out in the Mahinda Chintana,” said Halil Dundar, Task Team Leader of the Project.

“Aligned with the strategic framework of this program, we will closely collaborate with other development partners such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to expand the supply of skilled and employable workers by increasing access to quality and labor market relevant training programs.” To achieve this objective, the Project will support improved governance and management of the training sector, improved quality and relevance of training programs, and expand access to quality skills development programs.

The Project will be structured around two components: (a) Program Support to the SSDP; and (b) Innovation, Results Monitoring, and Capacity Building. The Project will be implemented by the Ministry

of Youth Affairs and Skills Development, working closely with the Ministry of Finance and Planning and other relevant ministries and agencies.

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