This year Sri Lanka and Germany mark 60 years of friendship and diplomatic relations. A week of celebrations is planned for October to mark this landmark. To commemorate this significant occasion, it is planned to launch a Career Guidance Unit to support the youth of the country to plan their careers. What is distinctive is that this Career Guidance Unit will be housed in a bus. What is even more significant is that this bus will be from the original fleet of Mercedes Benz buses first imported from Germany by Sri Lanka to supplement the busses acquired through the nationalisation of the private bus companies. One of the very first buses broughtdown to the country from Germany is now equipped as a career guidance unit to commemorate the 60 years of friendship that continues to flourish.
This mobile Career Guidance Unit will travel to remote rural areas and provide career information to youth and parents. Facilitated by trained career guidance officers, it will move from region to region offering guidance and advice especially to youth on how they can enter into, develop and progress in their careers through vocational education and training. The Career Guidance Unit will support youth to identify a vocational training course suited to their aptitude as well as their aspirations. It will help them recognise the market demand for different sectors so that they can make an informed decision about which courses they should chose. Youth are supported to enrol for programmes that make them “employable”. They are also made aware about current employment opportunities within their locality as well as elsewhere and which skills they need to make use of these opportunities.
This novel career guidance unit will offer a range of services to youth throughout the country including the opportunity to participate in a career interest test, which will match their skills and aspirations with suitable careers. It will provide them information on vocational training courses, training institutes, job opportunities and potential employers using state of the art facilities and equipment. Information available will include training programs conducted by public and private training providers in the Districts including names, course details, addresses and contact information for the training institute so that these youth may approach them for improving their skills.
The career guidance unit will also provide facilities for groups to meet, hold information sessions or small workshops. Information on advancement in the NVQ framework, employment opportunities and labour market information will be displayed through banners, posters, leaflets and other visual aids some of which will be provided to the youth as a “take-home pack” of valuable information.
This Career Guidance Unit evolves from an innovative approach introduced in 1998 when Germany was instrumental in introducing career guidance to the Vocational Training Sector of Sri Lanka, for the first time under the Programme – Vocational Training and Private Sector Promotion (VTPSP). Staff attached to the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA), Vocational Training Authority (VTA) and the National Youth Services Council (NYSC) were trained as Master trainers and Career Guidance officers.
The Diesel and Motor Engineering Company (DIMO), the Sri Lankan representative for Mercedes Benz of Germany, is supporting this innovation by providing the bus from the original fleet of 1956. The Career Guidance Unit is being supported and implemented by the Vocational Training in the North of Sri Lanka project (VT-North). The project is implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the German development bank Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The Sri Lankan governmental partners are the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Skills Development (MYASD) and its National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA). VT-North is setting up the Sri Lanka German Training Institute – SLGTI – in Kilinochchi, which will commence operations in 2015.