Vocational training in the north and east of Sri Lanka

Project description

Title: Vocational training in the north and east of Sri Lanka (VTN)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Co-financing: Swiss State Secretariat for Migration
Country: Sri Lanka
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Science, Technology, Research, Skills Development & Vocational Training and Kandyan Heritage
Overall term: 2015 to 2018


Since the armed conflict ended in 2009, the Sri Lankan Government has implemented its reconstruction policy through a number of infrastructure projects in the northern and eastern provinces. The armed conflict had a major impact on both regions and even though they are currently displaying rapid economic growth, there is a significant shortage of skilled labour. In order to train young people for sustainable, socio-economic development in the north and east of Sri Lanka, development measures for improving vocational and technical training and encouraging reconciliation in the region need to be carried out.


Vocational training focused on the needs of the labour market improves the employability of young people in the north and east of Sri Lanka.


The project currently supports a network of 15 vocational training centres, with the aim of improving the quality and quantity of vocational training that they provide. These efforts are accompanied by the setting up of strong links with private sector companies that facilitate the transition from vocational training to the world of work. At the heart of the network is the Sri Lanka-German Training Institute (SLGTI). This facility provides students with training for National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) levels 4, 5 and 6 in the fields of automotive engineering, food processing, information and communications technology (ICT), electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and construction. By using student-friendly approaches to vocational training, SLGTI teaches its students both the theoretical knowledge and practical skills that industry requires.

KfW Development Bank financed the construction of SLGTI, while the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is responsible for teacher training and developing the capacities of SLGTI’s management structures. GIZ also provides SLGTI with technical experts, including an experienced head teacher and a member of support staff. In addition to the new training centre, 14 existing vocational training centres are receiving support through the VTN project. These satellite centres are in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya, Mannar and Trincomalee. The project activities here comprise training trainers and upgrading the centres, the aim being to adapt the facilities in line with the current accreditation standards. Students from these 14 centres can train for NVQ levels 3 and 4 and successful graduates can either continue with their training at SLGTI or go directly into a career. Cooperation with the private sector is vital for almost all project activities. As a result, it is given due consideration, with the primary objective being to prepare vocational students for the demands of the labour market and to include companies in these efforts. The project works together closely with companies from the private sector in facilitating training in the workplace, the development of curricula and professional exchange between companies and training centres.

Finally, the project offers informal training and technical support for income-generating measures to men and women living in rural areas who have no access to formal education and training measures. The aim of this strategy is to allow them to gain the technical and commercial skills required to be able to produce sesame oil, food (poppadoms and snacks) as well as manufacture bags.


  • Since the first new training centre opened its doors to students in June 2012, the project’s training activities had reached 3,093 students. The total number of students in the 15 supported vocational training institutions has risen by almost 50 per cent, i.e. from 2,300 students in 2015 to 3,093 students in August 2017. Of these, more than 40 per cent are female students and over 85 per cent of all students come from marginalised families. They attend courses in electronics, electrical engineering, automotive engineering, ICT, construction, tailoring, hairdressing and beauty, food processing, hotel management and nursing.

  • The first 129 SLGTI students have completed their courses at the institute and are now undertaking industrial internships. The second group, consisting of 318 SLGTI students, began their training in early September 2017.

  • Overall, 151 teachers have received technical and teacher training and 30 administrative staff have undergone management training.

  • Based on a partnership between Jetwing Hotels Ltd. and the Vocational Training Authority (VTA), the project set up an initiative that enabled 64 students from the training centre in Karainagar to undertake their training in the hotel industry. This trilateral cooperation is one of the success stories of public private partnerships in vocational training and will be continued. 32 of these former trainees now have jobs in the newly opened Jetwing Hotel in Jaffna, while the others are working mainly forother employers in the hospitality sector.

  • Young people play a crucial role in the reconciliation process. This is why the project initiated various sporting and cultural events to bring young people from different ethnic, religious and social backgrounds together, creating mutual trust and understanding between them.

  • In addition to these efforts, a training module on social skills has been developed and is used in all of the supported centres.

  • 70 women from rural areas have received informal training and are in the process of starting up their business activities.