Vocational training in the north and east of Sri Lanka

Project description

Title: Vocational training in the north and east of Sri Lanka
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 Skills Development and Vocational Training
Overall term: 2015 to 2017

Sri Lanka. Auszubildende im Training. National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA) im Berufsbildungszentrum Kilinochchi. © GIZ


Although Sri Lanka’s armed conflict came to an end in 2009, the decades of civil war continue to have a negative impact on the country’s economic development. Young people are struggling to find gainful employment, especially in the north and east of the country. The former conflict areas do not offer vocational training opportunities tailored to the needs of either the economy or society as a whole, and there is a lack of adequately trained teachers. This situation is compounded by the fact that in rural areas in particular, young women and people with disabilities cannot participate in formal training. This may be due to cultural reasons, or because they live too far from any vocational schools, have family commitments, or need to earn an income.

At the same time, while there is a significant shortage of skilled labour, the region has insufficient resources and expertise to set up demand-driven vocational training institutions. Improved access to vocational training and the resultant increase in employment prospects will directly contribute to promoting peace and supporting conflict transformation in the country.


Young people are using improved, demand-driven training opportunities in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka.


The project team is currently supporting 15 vocational training institutions in the north and east of Sri Lanka in improving their training courses. The Sri Lanka-German Training Institute (SLGTI), which opened in July 2016, is the hub of this network of vocational training institutions. SLGTI offers a wide range of training programmes in areas such as food processing, construction, automobile mechanics and electrical installation. The training courses have been tailored to the needs of the labour market, and are being run in collaboration with the private sector.

KfW Development Bank financed the construction of SLGTI, while GIZ is assisting with teacher training, curriculum development, establishing a management structure, and the day-to-day running of SLGTI.

To provide the new institute with enough qualified applicants, the project has identified several vocational training institutions, or ‘satellite centres’, and is now supporting these in expanding the range of training courses they offer. The aim is to provide young people with the qualifications they need for admission to SLGTI.

Subjects such as entrepreneurship, English and IT skills are built into all the training programmes so that they meet current market demands. All courses at SLGTI and the satellite centres also include work placements to ensure that the trainees gain practical knowledge and experience that will help them transition more easily to the world of work.

Support for the vocational training courses in East Province has been enabled through co-financing from Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Migration.


The first training centre opened in 2012, and since then almost 2,400 students have completed their vocational training there. In July 2016, 285 students from across Sri Lanka started studying at the newly established SLGTI. More than 1,700 students are now studying at one of the 14 satellite centres, on one of the eleven vocational training courses they offer, and over 400 students at four satellite centres have the opportunity to take part in work placements. 173 students have already gained accredited qualifications.

Collaboration with Jetwing Hotel Group has meant that almost 60 students at the vocational school in Karainagar have been able to gain work experience in one of the Group’s hotels in Sri Lanka. 42 of these former students now have jobs in the newly opened Jetwing Hotel in Jaffna.

The cultural festival, Young and Diverse, was held in Kilinochchi in 2012 and in Mullaitivu in 2013. It brought together young people from different ethnic, religious and social backgrounds in a spirit of mutual understanding and trust. This festival took place again in September 2016 in Trincomalee.

Study trips took place every year between 2012 and 2015 under the title ‘North Meets South’. These trips gave students from the north the opportunity to meet Singhalese and Muslim youths, entrepreneurs and vocational school teachers in Colombo.

GIZ has devised a module on developing social skills, which is being run in the satellite centres in the north and the east of Sri Lanka.