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USAID Launches Youth Employment Skills Project Office in Hambantota – YouLead!

December, 5, 2017

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the Hambantota District Chamber of Commerce, opened a regional YouLead! office in Hambantota on November 29.  YouLead! is a USAID-funded 1.8 billion rupee program ($12 million)  program launched in 2017 that will create a more market–oriented, skilled, and flexible Sri Lankan workforce.  In partnership with the Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training as well as the private sector, YouLead! will support youth employability and access to sustainable self-employment opportunities in Sri Lanka.

“USAID is proud to have helped establish the Hambantota Chamber of Commerce in the past, and we are proud to renew and continue this partnership under YouLead!” USAID Mission Director Dr. Andrew Sisson said during the opening of the regional center in Hambantota.  “It is our vision that YouLead!’s regional office will become a resource for youth seeking to develop their skills and employment opportunities throughout the region.”

YouLead! focuses on provinces with the highest rate of youth unemployment—Sabaragamuwa, Central, Southern, and Northern Provinces.  The first YouLead! regional office, located within the Hambantota District Chamber of Commerce office, will work closely with members of the Chamber as well as vocational training institutes run by the public and private sector in the region to develop partnerships and career development opportunities to support youth employment in the Southern and Sabaragamuwa Provinces.

The opening of the regional office in Hambantota featured the Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training, Honorable Chandima Weerakkody; Minister of Housing and Construction Sajith Premadasa; Vice President of the International Executive Service Corps and Project Director for YouLead!, Charles Conconi; President of Hambantota District Chamber of Commerce, D.W. Anura Upul; local government officials; and other members of the Hambantota Chamber of Commerce.

The USAID-funded YouLead! program is administered by Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance and implemented by the International Executive Service Corps (IESC), an organization that has worked with hundreds of private enterprises in Sri Lanka since 1965.  Under YouLead!, IESC has partnered with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, the American Chamber of Commerce, Arizona State University, Global Communities, Skills for Life, and Verité Research.

About USAID: USAID is the development agency of the U.S. Government and has provided over two billion dollars in development and humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka since 1956.

Photo caption: (Above) Mr. Charles Conconi, Project Director, USAID-YouLead!  Addressing the event

[caption id="attachment_41517" align="alignnone" width="750"] (Left) Mr.D.W. Anura Upul, President, Hambantota District Chamber of Commerce and Mr. Charles Conconi, Project Director, USAID-YouLead! Signing the MoU and (right) Mr. D. W. Anura Upul, President, Hambantota District Chamber of Commerce and Mr. Charles Conconi, Project Director, USAID-YouLead! exchange the signed MoUs[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_41518" align="alignnone" width="750"] (From left) Mr.Brian Wittnebel, Deputy Director, Office of Economic Growth, USAID, Dr. Andrew Sisson, Mission Director, USAID Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Mr. D.W. Anura Upul, President, Hambantota District Chamber of Commerce, and Mr.Charles Conconi, Project Director, USAID-YouLead! and the USAID YouLead! Hambantota Filed Office at Hambantota District Chamber of Commerce[/caption]