Sri Lanka’s skills programme gets ADB backing

3 Apr 18

The Asian Development Bank has approved a $100m results-based loan to help the Sri Lankan government enhance employment skills to support productivity and economic diversification.

A lack of skilled labour is hurting the South Asian country’s economy, the bank said, and is viewed by the private sector as a key constraint to business growth.

“Sri Lanka has achieved universal primary and high secondary enrolment rates, a high adult literacy rate, and gender parity in access to all levels of education.

“However, there remains a clear mismatch between skills among youth and labour market demand,” said Gi Soon Song, an ADB principal social sector specialist.

“The ongoing skills enhancement programme…will address this issue through a focus on technical and vocational education and policy support.”

The funding will enable the government to continue implementing its skills sector development programme, which is supported by an earlier $100m ADB loan, agreed in 2014.

The bank also said Sir Lanka’s unemployment rate is high, with one in five citizens aged 15 to 24 out of work. At the same time, only 35.9% of women are included in the labour force.

The ADB will also administer a $3m grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) to complement existing assistance to strengthen private sector engagement and women’s participation in employment.

Getting women into the workforce and decreasing youth unemployment would add high value to the economy, the bank said.

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