At a time where the future of work is more unpredictable due to the increased automation of the workforce and the dynamics at play in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, only 1 in 4 young people in South Asia is estimated to be on track to gain secondary-level skills necessary for success in the global economy. While great strides have been made in achieving universal primary education, South Asia is still home to 28 million out-of-school-children (OOSC) – 10 million at primary level, and 18 million at lower secondary level – and 45 percent of primary-aged children are not learning the basics of reading and math.
The result is a significant skill and employment challenge in South Asia, where many young people are not receiving the learning and training to keep pace with the evolving demands of employment. This skills gap, which contributes to high levels of unemployment for higher education graduates and large informal economies where young workers are in vulnerable employment, must be addressed through innovative approaches that connect secondary-age education and training to the fast-changing world of work.
To respond to this critical economic and social development challenge, UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia and the Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education) co-hosted the South Asia Youth Skills and Solution Forum. Building on the Generation Unlimited initiative and GBC-Education’s Youth Skills and Innovation Initiative, the Forum aims to build strategic partnerships between key stakeholders to improve the future of work for South Asian youth. It will be a platform to bring together stakeholders from all South Asian countries to identify solutions for youth skills and quality employment to re-align, re-think and re-imagine, to re-create opportunities for South Asian Youth.
Mr. Dulan S. Dias nominated to represent Sri Lanka at South Asia Youth Skills and Solution Forum held in Mumbai, India, by UNICEF Sri Lanka. He was also handed over with the responsibility of being the voice of the South Asian Youth and presented the “Voice of Youth” presentation where he highlighted some key issues faced by South Asian Youth and also proposed solutions to some, along with his co-presenter from Afghanistan. In his address, he mentioned and appreciated the initiatives taken by the University of Sri Jayewardenepura to address the key issue of youth not willing to take up entrepreneurship.
With the forming up of Innovation, Invention and Venture Creation Council (IIVCC) and Business Linkage Cells, the university promotes the creation of start-ups and entrepreneurs. The university assists these wanna-be entrepreneurs through the granting of funds, knowledge through various different programmes. This helps create more entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs in result, creates more jobs in the job market. Thus, creating a sustainable cycle in employment.