Issues of the youth, which were not adequately and systematically attended and presented that have grown up over a long period of time is a major root cause of the widespread violence and unrest that exist in the country today. Formation of youth bulges due to various contributing factors was a prominent social symptom. Having worked very closely with the poorest of the poor and the youth in the South-Western coastal belt of the country for nearly 25 years Arthacharya Foundation (AF) is quite convinced that youth bulges are appearing at an alarming rate in the south of the country again. Unemployment, underemployment, political affiliation, and drug trafficking, could be considered as main reasons for the formation of these youth bulges. Arthacharya developed an effective strategy to attend to these youth bulges by providing them vocational training skills. The focus of the project is entrepreneurship development and rapid job creation, for the main stakeholders of one year initiative covering Hikkaduwa Divisional Secretary’s which were among the most violently affected. The goal of the project is to ensure that increased opportunities exist for youth to engage themselves in productive employment and voice and express opinions as well as harness innate potentials so that they become involved as productive citizens of the country while preventing the formation of destructive youth bulges.
The project have a strategy through which it will establish “down to earth and low cost” skills training programmes based on the local market demand to generate gainful employment opportunities for the youth. In doing this the project focus on “Young people who are engaged in various odd jobs in tourist industry but mainly as guides, drug traffickers and male sex workers and become criminal elements during the off season in addition to becoming vulnerable against HIV. Due to the fact that there is a considerable section of the unemployed youth who do not want to leave for towns owing to various social and economic reasons the project focus on generating employment opportunities for them in their own areas based on the best practices An innovative strategy adopted by the project in creating jobs very rapidly is to follow a ‘fast and target oriented’ method of vocational training in place of conventional vocational training programmes which are very slow, infrastructure based, expensive, non-inclusive and technocratic. The new method identifies entrepreneurship skills and vocations which have a ready market in the fast changing economy and is based on temporary training spaces which was rented by the project and a visiting faculty to be gathered from both government and private sector institutions.
Mobile phone Training, House wiring Training, Beauty culture Training, Sewing Training ( Dress making, Tailoring), Handicraft Training (making shoes and hand bags as well as cloth toys and embroidery work) and Computer skills training are included in the training schedule. The school leavers in their late teen and the youth who are in their early twenties comprise in the target group in the project area. However, the unemployed youth above this age group is included.
The project allows young women and men to launch a one year program focusing on their acquiring (i) job market targeted skills training;(ii) access to microfinance and (iii) communication skills through familiarising them with internet and email. These activities would allow participating youth as change agents to influence other youth through their best practices and success stories. The project will create a minimum of 150 gainful employment opportunities in one year in the project area and become a replicable model.