Skills and employability in Sri Lanka and the Maldives

Studently following a Information Technology course in Batticaloa
ILO’s work in Sri Lanka related to skills and employability is an integrated part of the “Decent Work Country Programme for Sri Lanka 2013-2017”. ILO’s focus and attention is further defined in the Programme’s priority outcome 1: Promotion of full, decent and productive employment and enabling environment for competitive, sustainable enterprise development.

Skills development is an essential element in improving the employability and potential productivity of the work force. It is also a primary means of enabling young people to make a smooth transition from school to work.

In Sri Lanka a key discussion on skills and employability is whether or not the present system of education equips school leavers with the necessary skills to make a smooth transition from school to work. Critics indicate this is not sufficiently the case, thus leaving youth without employable skills when they exit the education system for the world of work. This discussion is often referred to as the “skills miss-match hypothesis”.

Employers too complain that graduates do not have the knowledge required for certain job performance and demand more training to make them better suited. This also applies to the graduates coming out of formal vocational training institutions. Critics indicate there is a gross mismatch between the skills provided by the vocational training institutions and the skills demanded by industry and the services sector.

The ILO is keenly involved in assistance to improve the quality and relevance of skills training programmes to ensure graduates are employable.

In Sri Lanka, the ILO provided technical assistance to the Tertiary and Vocational Education commission in formulating a National Policy on “Vocational Education, and Training Provision for Vulnerable People in Sri Lanka”. This document serves as a “road-map for action” in funneling candidates for vocational training into mainstream centers. The strategy opens up access to training opportunities which were hitherto denied or not adequately offered to persons deemed vulnerable. It creates a conducive environment for participation and linking vulnerable groups trained with the ‘world of work’.