(29th June 2012): International cricketing stars Mr. Mahela Jayawardena and Mr. Kumar Sangakkara joined youth representatives from Connect Lanka, Training For Trusteeship (TFT) programme of the Weeramantry International Centre for Peace Education and Research (WICPER), Rotaract Clubs of ANC, Colombo Up-Town and Colombo North to launch the Career Guidance and Youth Empowerment [CGYE] programme, which is endorsed and supported by the National Youth Services Council [NYSC], International Organisation for Migration [IOM] and the United Nations Volunteers [UNV] Programme. Mr. Jayawardena and Mr. Sangakkara joined an exclusive panel comprising of the Country Programme Officer of the UN Volunteers Mr. Natal Donnaloia, Chief of Mission of IOM Mr. Richard Danziger, Working Director of National Youth Services Council Mr. Milinda Rajapaksha, Project Manager CGYE Mr. Varuna Ponnamperuma, Project Director Training for Trusteeship Mr. Neshan Gunesekara and Rotaract representative Ms. Sadhani Rajapakse.
At the event which was held on the 28th of June at the Taj Samudra Hotel, the websites of the CGYE programme and the Connect Lanka Youth Movement were also launched.
“CGYE is not just another career guidance programme, it is a prime example of youth from various backgrounds enabling opportunities for fellow youth”, noted Mr. Varuna Ponnamperuma, Project Manager CGYE and Member of Connect Lanka movement. “Following Rio+20, many are talking about the future Sri Lankan youth, CGYE highlights the importance of having a future in which youth play an active role in society”, he added.
CGYE recognizes that there are diverse issues that need to be addressed in terms of youth employment in Sri Lanka. Firstly, the parental perceptions on what is good employment. Secondly, the ignorance among youth on the various career options that is available to them and finally the lack of skills to pursue a career of their choice. CGYE is part of a larger effort to intervene, share knowledge and create networking opportunities for these fellow youth with potential employers and educational institutes.
“For the National Youth Services Council, the premier youth services body in Sri Lanka, it is encouraging to see youth coming together to support fellow youth, this is one of our core pillars, empowering youth”, noted Mr. Lalith Piyum Perera, Chairman NYSC. “What is important here is the fact that these youngsters are not limiting the programme to one day and not just providing guidance, rather they are taking the time to identify what the requirement is and match that with the required guidance”, he added. “Such capacity and positive vision among the youth of Sri Lanka is a key reason why we want to host the World Youth Conference in 2014”, Mr. Piyum Perera further added.
The main objective of this programme is to create opportunities for youth to connect with the appropriate avenues in their effort to find suitable careers or pursue desired areas of interest. Locating a meaningful career is one of the most important accomplishments in life. In fact, meaningful career employment affects every aspect of an individual's life, including emotional and physical health, quality of life, interaction with others, and the ability to reach one's highest potential. This joint venture is an effort to build a sustainable model to address youth employment issues, where the output can be used by the government in youth and skills development.
“The International Organisation for Migration is a firm believer in the contribution youth can make to society and for this reason we are supporting the CGYE programme that is initiated and led by youth of Sri Lanka”, notes Mr. Richard Danziger, Chief of Mission of IOM. “The last phase of CGYE will bring in selected youth from different project locations in Sri Lanka to one place for a three day workshop, which we certainly see as a significant contribution to national reconciliation efforts”, he added. CGYE is a programme, which intends to empower the youth with suitable educational opportunities. Hence, it is important that the institutions which carry different missions, visions and objectives come together in order to make youth aware of the opportunities in store for them and the avenues that they could take, in order to achieve their dreams.
“Empowering youth is a key for sustainable development in Sri Lanka, and the role education has in this process is very large”, noted Mr. Mahela Jayawardena, Captain of the National Cricket Team. “I hope education institutions will join hands with these youngsters by partnering with this project and thereby empower the future leaders of our motherland”, he added. Demand for secure public sector employment has always been on the high, youth unemployment cannot be solved by merely expecting employment in the public sector. The corporate/private sector in a developing economy is creating more and more employment opportunities that will match the needs of the younger generation. CGYE creates a platform for the corporate sectors to come together for the job fair and introduce themselves and network with these youth from various backgrounds and communities. “The opportunity for the private sector firms to reach out to untapped youth potential through CGYE is extremely exciting”, adds Mr. Kumar Sangakkara, National Cricketer. “Today’s youth are looking for challenging new opportunities and the firms in the private sector are well equipped to cater to this demand”, he added. “CGYE can provide a good grassroots level platform for corporate involvement, so I invite all private sector firms to support these youngsters in their work”, Mr. Sangakkara further added.
“Soft skills are often forgotten when youth education and employment programmes are carried out. Therefore it is significant that this programme includes this element of soft skills from the beginning as a fundamental element”, notes Mr. Natal Donnaloia, Programme Officer, UNV Sri Lanka. “Volunteering provides the perfect avenue to gain soft skills, such as for communication, interpersonal relations and team work”, he added. “CGYE is a project led by volunteers promoting the great value and ethos of volunteering, to show that Volunteer Actions Count”, Mr. Donnaloia further added.
The programme will target the youth in the Northern, Eastern, Central and Southern provinces of Sri Lanka. This programme emphasises the importance of the intervention by the youth from different parts of the country to come together to share and assist one another in an issue that is relevant to the youth at large. CGYE hopes to carry out the project in three phases where they would change the attitudes of the youth regarding the issue, empower them with the soft skills, develop their self-confidence and create a platform for them to explore on various career options that are available. “CGYE is a pilot initiative by a multi-stakeholder partnership involving government, civil society and business leaders to address the youth unemployment issue in Sri Lanka”, noted Mr. Neshan Gunasekera, Director, Training for Trusteeship Programme. “Outstanding young leaders from all walks of life and backgrounds will be involved in this initiative so that the solutions are sought through principles of social cohesion and integration so the effort is bridged to a wider audience.”, he added.
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