Colombo, April 2 (newsin.asia) – The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Board of Directors, on Monday, approved a 100 million dollars results-based loan as additional financing for the Sri Lankan government’s efforts to develop skills to meet labor demands, support economic diversification, and enhance productivity in the country, the ADB said in a statement.
“Sri Lanka has achieved universal primary and high secondary enrollment 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 labor market demand,” said Gi Soon Song, an ADB Principal Social Sector Specialist.
“The ongoing skills enhancement program, spearheaded by the government and supported by ADB, will address this issue through a focus on technical and vocational education and policy support.”
The ADB said this 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 island country also faces a high unemployment, with one out of five Sri Lankans aged 15-24 years out of work.
Meanwhile, only 35.9 percent 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.
“The additional funding will enable the government to continue implementing the Skills Sector Development Program (SSDP), which is supported by a 100 million dollar ADB loan approved in 2014, through 2020,” the ADB said.
SSDP aims to significantly improve the quality of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) provided to young people in Sri Lanka to increase their employability, while also enhancing 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.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region.