Unemployment directly connected to poor school-to-work transition | Sunday Observer

Unemployment directly connected to poor school-to-work transition

At present, the country faces an enormous labour scarcity in several fast-growing industries including tourism, construction and healthcare. Pic: Courtesy Lake House Media Library
At present, the country faces an enormous labour scarcity in several fast-growing industries including tourism, construction and healthcare. Pic: Courtesy Lake House Media Library

Verité Research, with support from the USAID funded YouLead program, released a thought-provoking report and recommendation in their Youth Labour Market Assessment 2018.

The study has revealed several interesting insights on Sri Lanka’s youth unemployment.

The year-long quantitative research focused on determining the key issues that impede youth employability and provides recommendations to address systemic constraints. Verité Research shared the research findings with the public and private sector, NGOs, INGOs and academia.

The report is for general use and is accessible to anyone trying to address education or employment issues whether this is an employer attempting to hire young people, a training institute, an NGO, government agency or any other organisation.

Verité Research’s research identifies emerging trends in youth employment and provides key insights to readers on how to formulate progressive strategies to advance youth employability in Sri Lanka.

At present, the country faces an enormous labour scarcity in several fast-growing industries including tourism, construction and healthcare. This is even though five million women and 70% of all youth, are outside the workforce. The assessment notes that youth unemployment in Sri Lanka is directly connected to poor school-to-work transition. The research focused on employed, unemployed and constrained youth, the gender dimension of the labour market landscape, youth entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship training. Primary data was gathered through surveys of 2,000 youth, 223 employers, five key informant interviews and a survey of 400 students who underwent entrepreneurship training at the National Apprenticeship and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA), Industrial Development Board (IDB), National Enterprise Development Authority (NEDA) and the Small Enterprise Development Division (SED). The research found that youth aspire for jobs that complement their existing skills and facilitate a safe working environment. It also found that youth spent an average of 21 months searching for employment and approximately 29% of constrained youth showed an interest to work. Women were found to be three times more likely to remain in their jobs while transportation was a priority when looking for an occupation regardless of gender.

The assessment presents a new Index, the ‘Youth Gender Gap Index’ (YGGI), which measures gender inequality in the provinces and portrays data on district and provincial level by gender. This will help YouLead to consider expanding its geographical reach to cover vulnerable areas of the island such as the Uva province.

It also shows that 20% of women who leave work for family reasons, for child care or care giving, would like to return to work programs to re-enter the workforce. It makes a cogent empirical evidence-based argument that women are far more loyal in staying at workplaces. It also shows that if companies factor in the replacement value of a job, it is men who constantly jump jobs and cost more to companies by around 50% of their pay scale. This is despite a pattern of some women dropping out during the early years of child-bearing. This makes women far easier to retain than popular perception dictates.

The assessment puts the new business start-up rate at 19% among youth who have undergone entrepreneurial training and showed that there is gap between curriculum delivered and entrepreneur needs.

Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Rajendra Theagarajah has invited Verité Research to make a presentation of the findings to the Chamber’s members.

YouLead is a four-year project funded by USAID and implemented by IESC. It is dedicated to creating a more skilled workforce in Sri Lanka. The project focuses on linking youth with more productive careers, enabling more women to enter the workforce and encouraging entrepreneurship among youth. 

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