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Planning the future of unemployed youth

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 Even with such a high literacy rate, Sri Lanka, is facing a staggering problem; the high levels of unemployment among youth (Pix AFP)

 

  • Immediate focus needed to bring solutions to youth issues and work must start from Divisional Secretaries
  • Youth unemployment is at 20.8% which is a high youth unemployment ratio in a developing country
  • For years, successive governments have been looking to solve this issue, but the stark reality is that Sri Lanka faces a shortage of skilled labor and jobs are scarce

 

Sri Lanka, compared to other countries in the South Asian region, has a very high literacy rate as education is free and mandatory among all children. Even in some villages, where poverty persists, local state officials ensure that children receive an education and attend school.

Sri Lanka has an adult literacy rate of 93.2% (2017), which is above average by world and regional standards. Even with such a high literacy rate, Sri Lanka, is facing a staggering problem; the high levels of unemployment among youth. At present, Sri Lanka’s youth population amounts to 4.4 million out of the country’s 21.6 million population; which is about 20% of the total population. But youth unemployment is at 20.8% which is a high youth unemployment ratio in a developing country.

 

If corporate giants, including the leading industrialists can be encouraged to open up industries in different divisions they can operate with the work force of that particular area, where they can be trained in a particular skill and this would also help Sri Lanka to manufacture more of its own products


High unemployment in Sri Lanka has been attributed to unrealistic expectations, to queuing for public sector jobs, and to stringent job security regulations. For years, successive governments have been looking to solve this issue, but the stark reality is that Sri Lanka faces a shortage of skilled labor and jobs are scarce. Especially now, in the new COVID-19 affected world, the levels of unemployment will only rise, leading to several issues among our most vital social segment.


Following my appointment as the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs in August, I have been holding extensive discussions with youth from across the country. And the leading problem discussed in each district is the high levels of unemployment; which results in many social and personal issues facing them. As a result, it was discussed that many of our youth then prefer to go overseas, in search of employment, thus driving away Sri Lanka’s crucial workforce to other nations. In order to provide some solution to this staggering problem, I held discussions with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa recently and proposed to establish at least one industry in each AG division across the country so that youth in that particular division would be provided with jobs and will also be trained with necessary skills. Presently industries are set up only in particular industrial zones, which leads to an influx of youth having to leave their homes and travel into the cities in search of employment. The practicality of this is now thin, with the world having to maintain strict health guidelines and social distancing and working in environments with a minimum workforce due to the present pandemic.


If corporate giants, including the leading industrialists can be encouraged to open up industries in different divisions they can operate with the work force of that particular area, where they can be trained in a particular skill and this would also help Sri Lanka to manufacture more of its own products, which is the vision of both the President and Prime Minister. This would enable to create more jobs among the men and women, and strengthen the GDP of that particular district. Further, the establishment of industries will also create many indirect jobs as well which would help alleviate poverty in the poorest of the poor districts. Initially, I proposed that we identify the districts where the GDP is low and the rate of unemployment is high. Both the President and Prime Minister, responded favourably and agreed to hold further discussions regarding the matter. The matter was also discussed with Minister of Industries Wimal Weerawansa and Minister of tourism Prasanna Ranatunga and D.V. Chanaka; who is the State Minister of Aviation and Export Zones Development.


The Government aims to have discussions to offer tax concessions to industries which hope to get involved in this project and agree to establish their factories in the AG divisions. Further discussions will also be held with the BOI and all stakeholders in the coming days. I have requested the President and Prime Minister and the concerned ministers to expedite discussions on this matter.

 

In order to provide some solution to this staggering problem, I held discussions with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa recently and proposed to establish at least one industry in each AG division across the country so that youth will be trained with necessary skills


In several articles penned by me before, I have mentioned the importance of the youth sector of any country. They are the backbone of the economy. I strongly believe the success of any Government starts with the addressing of youth issues and also the education of the youth. While there is a dearth of skilled labour in this country, as a responsible Government we must now look at providing a solution immediately to this issue, so that Sri Lanka can retain its workforce and strengthen its local markets as well. I will ensure that under my tenure as the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs that a suitable solution is found to end the unemployment issue facing this country and work with all the ministries concerned.


After all, the youth will decide what the future would be for this nation if they have the right attitude, guidance and resources. I am certain this future can only be positive and bright.

 

 

The Government aims to have discussions to offer tax concessions to industries which hope to get involved in this project and agree to establish their factories in the AG divisions. Further discussions will also be held with the BOI and all stakeholders in the coming days

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