According to a study done by the University Grant Commission (UGC), 7 out of the 9 provinces experienced over 50% youth unemployment in 2015. Nearly 60,000 graduates were unemployed in 2018. The report also highlighted the underlying factors that attributed to this were attitudes, skills mismatches and culture.
A further 2014 World Bank report titled ‘Building the Skills for Economic Growth and Competitiveness in Sri Lanka,’ highlights, the mismatch of demand and supply of skilled workers in the labour market.
Graduate unemployment is a major issue in Sri Lanka. While many graduates have academic and additional qualifications, they lack the skills to convert knowledge into a profession, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Per the University Grants Commission (UGC), Sri Lankan state universities produced a total of 26,015 students (bachelor degree) in 2017. Only 1,153 graduated with a Computer Science or an IT degree, however there were 5,675 graduates from other Engineering and Science majors, who sometimes struggle to attract quality employment to their satisfaction, while IT industry struggles to find programmers.
The rapidly expanding local ICT industry targets USD.5 billon export revenue by 2020. In order to achieve this target, the industry plans to employ a workforce of 200,000 ICT professionals.
Since the local higher education sector is not producing enough ICT graduates to cater to industry demand, we are looking at other avenues to expand the workforce.
This initiative will train non-IT graduates and convert them to IT professionals who are readily employable by the industry. The program consist of a 6 month hands-on academic training program and a 12 months internship at a SLASSCOM member company. The graduates will be employed at the “programmer” level, where there is a massive demand. This initiative was conceptualized by TRACE, a nonprofit organization working towards moving Sri Lanka up the value chain through technology and innovation along with the Sri Lanka Technological Campus (SLTC) and the Sri Lanka Association of Software Services Companies (SLASSCOM).