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New Skills and Employment Opportunities For Youth

Twenty four year old Sivanthiya was looking for a job after competing grade 12 so she could support her family. Without skills and guidance, she never dreamt of becoming what she is today.

With a National Vocational Qualification, Sivanthiya is now a mini-entrepreneur, earns a decent income, and is respected by her community as a result of the vocational skills development training she attended, that is supported by Plan International. Twenty four year old Sivanthiya is from Batticaloa in the Eastern region of Sri Lanka. She was among the recipients of the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) programme, supported by Plan International.

In total, 52 young women and 48 young men were trained in vocational skills while 168 women and 33 men received training on entrepreneurship development.

Sivanthiya lives with her father, brother and two sisters. She comes from a very poor family and her father, the sole bread winner for the family is an unskilled laborer and carpenter.

Soon after Sivanthiya completed her studies in grade 12, she started looking for a job so that she could support her family.

“I was looking for a job endlessly. But I didn’t have any special skills that I would help me to get a job. But I never thought how important it was to be skilled in a particular area until I got to know more about the vocational skills programme supported by Plan International,” recalls Sivanthiya.

She admits that at the beginning there was reluctance, especially from the girls in her community, to undertake the vocational training courses. Sivanthiya visited the Skills Development Officer at the divisional office who helped her to register for the dress making course at the Miani Technical Institute. At the completion of this course, Sivanthiya undertook on the job training.

Confident as she is, Sivanthiya recently launched her new enterprise – a dress boutique, and currently receives what she calls a “reasonable and decent income” from the sewing orders, that help her to support her family.

Now she has a bigger dream to expand her business and employ her her friends.  She is also quite mindful of the demand of the market and makes every effort to explore more market opportunities to expand her business.

Like Sivanthiya, there were 96 girls and boys who completed their respective vocational skills programmes, followed by on the job training. Many of them are now employed in places that are relevant to their course of study.

More than vocational skills

Sivanthiya also recalls with pride of her association with the project that gave her more than vocational skills.

"During the training at Miani Technical Institute, I also had the opportunity to attend a life skills training programme. During these trainings, I learnt how I can influence positive changes in my life and as a result increase my self-confidence. I take this opportunity to thank Plan International and the Miani Technical Institute for giving such valuable opportunity to young people.”

Commenting on the overall project, David Sathananthan, Plan International's Programme Manager said: “there are so many young people in Batticaloa who have dropped out of school without any skills. This makes it difficult for them to find a job later on. As a result, they are quite frustrated and look for the first option and not the best option in life, to either move out of the city or country to do any job. Sivanthiya will be a role model for fellow youth who are looking for opportunities to improve their skills and find employment.”

Plan International implements National Vocational Qualification programme jointly with the National Vocational Training Authority, the Miani Technical Institute and St. Johns Technical Institute of Batticaloa.

The vocational skills development programme is a part of Plan International’s Youth Economic Leadership (YEL) project supported by Plan International Australia and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia. This is aimed at supporting youth to access to vocational skills and entreprenurship trainings to build their skills and find fulfilling employment.