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* World Bank approves US$ 101.5 million to Sri Lanka for Skills Development
Mon, Jun 23, 2014, 08:12 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

June 23, Colombo: Recognizing the high youth unemployment in Sri Lanka despite a large number of educated young workers, the World Bank Friday (June 20) approved a US$ 101.5 million to Sri Lanka to develop labor market skills of the country's youth.

The grant assistance through the World Bank's lending arm, International Development Association (IDA) will be utilized to expand the availability of employable workers by increasing access to high quality, labor market relevant skills development programs.

The project will open new career prospects for skilled employment that is critical to sustain growth in a middle income country.

Granting the credit, the global lender said despite a large number of educated young workers, Sri Lanka's labor market is characterized by high youth unemployment, high underemployment, and considerable informality.

Although the overall unemployment rate declined from 9 percent in 2000 to 4 percent in 2012, about 20 percent of 1524 year-olds were still unemployed in 2012, according to the World Bank data.

Outlining the current challenges of the labor market that the project seeks to address, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Francoise Clottes, said that over 50 percent of firms say that the education system does not produce skills that are relevant while 33 percent consider the lack of adequate skills as one of the major constraints on operating and growing their businesses.

This Project supports the Skills Sector Development Program (SSDP) launched by the Government of Sri Lanka as part of its Public Investment Strategy for 2014-16.

The SSDP aims to establish an efficient skills education system to meet the local and foreign labor market demand by 2020.

The Project will be structured around two components - Program Support to the SSDP and Innovation, Results Monitoring, and Capacity Building.

Task Team Leader of the Project Halil Dundar said World Bank will closely collaborate with other development partners such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to expand the supply of skilled and employable workers by increasing access to quality and labor market relevant training programs

The Sri Lankan government last month signed an agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to obtain financial assistance of US$ 200 million to implement the SSDP.

The Project will be implemented by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Skills Development, working closely with the Ministry of Finance and Planning and other relevant ministries and agencies.

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