SRI LANKA:

Ministry of Education Carries On Creative’s Successful Program Training Unemployed Youth

March 31, 2009

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Colombo March 29, 2009 – Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Education announced it will provide workforce readiness training to thousands of Sri Lankan youth. The Accelerated Skills Acquisition Program – a program started with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) – will continue to provide training using a specialized curriculum that targets unemployed youth, ages 15 – 25, with funding from the Asian Development Bank.

High unemployment rates for youth who do not enter university continue to be a national concern. To better prepare young people for the job market and go on to be successful in their careers, the Ministry of Education considered a wide range of job skills programs. It selected the USAID-funded ASAP Program because of its success in working with young people, especially school leavers, and its strong relationships with the private sector that have complemented the curriculum.

ASAP was designed and implemented by Creative Associates International, Inc. in partnership with the International Youth Foundation and the Christian Children’s Fund.

Under the Asian Development Bank-funded Education for Knowledge Society Project (EKSP), Ministry of Education activities will empower selected students who have completed their Advance Level (A/L) exams and who come from economically disadvantaged families.

The ASAP curriculum will further support the acquisition of post-secondary, career-oriented soft skills that are essential to finding gainful employment, especially in the emerging ICT and service sectors of Sri Lanka’s economy. The year 2009 is the “Year of Information Technology and English,” and EKSP will support successful initiatives in alignment with the Ministry’s objectives to strengthen IT and language skills.

During its implementation with funding from USAID, the ASAP Program trained 8,000 youth and school leavers in important skills such as IT, English language and work ethics. Now, with funding from the Asian Development Bank, the Ministry of Education will ensure thousands more young people receive training they need to be successful in the private sector.

USAID, the development agency of the U.S. Government, provided $2.4 million to launch the ASAP Program in 2006. Of the 8,000 unemployed youth trained in career success skills, about 2,000 are currently employed or participating in apprenticeships. This high-quality program will continue to help more youth in Sri Lanka.

“USAID is proud of what the ASAP Program has accomplished in training young people in the skills they need to find jobs and be successful in their careers,” said Gerald R. Andersen, Director of USAID’s Office of Economic Growth. “We are especially glad that the Ministry of Education shares our excitement about this program. With this new partnership, thousands of young people will find good jobs, gaining financial independence that will benefit their families and communities.”

The ASAP Program focuses on building “soft” skills such as English language and computer literacy training, interviewing skills, good work ethics, and productive attitudes. Curriculum designers worked closely with the private sector to develop training programs so that youth are ready to step into the private sector successfully. ASAP also links trainees to employers and vocational training centers, especially in rural areas.

— Asiantribune.com

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