ADB gives Sri Lanka US$100mn to help meet demand for skilled labour
ECONOMYNEXT – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Sri Lanka’s government Friday signed a $100 million loan agreement as additional financing for technical and vocational education and help companies overcome skilled labour shortages.
The additional funding will enable the government to continue implementing the Skills Sector Development Program (SSDP), which is supported by a $100 million ADB loan approved in 2014, through 2020.
The ADB said the money will also support economic diversification, and enhance productivity in the country.
The loan will be complemented by a $3 million grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction to strengthen private sector engagement and women’s participation in technical and vocational education and training as well as in employment in Sri Lanka.
The program’s first phase in 2014-2016 has been performing well, with the employment rate of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) graduates rising from 50% in 2012 to 57% in 2015, exceeding the 55% target.
The additional financing will expand successful program activities and accelerate the pace of reform initiatives, the ADB said in a statement.
The SSDP aims to significantly improve the quality of TVET provided to young people in Sri Lanka to increase their employability
It will also enhance partnerships with the private sector for better TVET planning and provision to align skilled labor supply with market demand.
The program is also increasing the number of TVET graduates and improving policy, institutional, and operational reforms to support the country’s skills sector.
The lack of skilled labor is hurting the Sri Lankan economy, with the country’s private sector considering this as a key constraint to business growth.
The unemployment rate is also high, with one out of five Sri Lankans aged 15-24 years out of work.
And only 35.9% of women are included in the labor force despite outperforming male counterparts academically at every level.
Equipping youth, especially young women, with employable skills is crucial to decrease youth unemployment and prepare the workforce for a high value-adding economy, the ADB said.