The highest unemployment rate is reported from the G.C.E (A/L) and above age group in Sri Lanka.
While Sri Lanka has made significant achievements in education, especially in primary and secondary education, this achievement is not sustained at university level.
According to the Labour Force Survey (2019), the highest unemployment rate is reported from the G.C.E (A/L) and above age group.
The survey further indicates that the youth unemployment rate (age 15-24 years) is currently at 21.6%. A shortage of skills and mismatches with labour market demands are some of the contributing factors.
Currently, a lack of evidence exists in understanding the problems faced by youth in skilling and finding decent employment, as is the evidence on solutions for enhancing skills. In-line with this, a study was commissioned by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Regional Office for South Asia to find solutions for improving the probability of finding decent employment for the youth category in South Asian nations, including Sri Lanka.
Following up on the study, UNICEF together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the ILO Country Office for Sri Lanka and the Maldives co-hosted a multi-partner dialogue bringing together key stakeholders in the Skilling and Training Ecosystem in Sri Lanka.
Speaking at the event on behalf of the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms. Simrin Singh, Director – ILO Country Office for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, stated, “Rising youth unemployment is a significant problem across countries and societies and is compounded by multiple factors. Investing in and equipping young people for the future of work is a long-term collaborative effort and requires multiple stakeholders working together to address the issue”.
Further, Saman Waduge, Additional Secretary, Youth Affairs highlighted, “Over the years, the Ministry of National Policies, Economic Affairs, Resettlement and Rehabilitation, Northern Province Development and Youth Affairs, has remained a key partner in empowering young people of Sri Lanka to enhance their employability prospects. Our work ensures that we leave no youth behind”.
The dialogue identified opportunities for public and private sector engagement in skilling programmes for youth. It further identified entry points for the Government, Private sector, Worker Groups, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Institutions, and UN agencies to engage in supporting youth with skills, employability and age-appropriate employment in Sri Lanka.
The dialogue will serve as the initial step to identify key thematic areas for the South Asia Regional Forum on Youth and Skills to be held in Mumbai in October 2019.