The Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN) is an international coalition of committed companies, international organisations such asthe International Organization of Employers (IOE), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and employers’ federations that are dedicated to work-readiness programs with the goal of creating job opportunities and a skills base that matches labour demand.Established in 2013, as an outcome of the G20, the GAN is a response to the global youth unemployment crisis and the need for business to ensure skills for the future.
GAN National Networks (GNNs) are the platform, on the ground, which allows the GAN to achieve concrete results. The GNNs’ essential role is to quantify commitments and root the GAN concepts within the national context – catering to the distinct economic, cultural and institutional needs present at the national and local level. Currently, GNNs operate in Turkey, Indonesia, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Malawi, Tanzania, Namibia, Spain, France, Belgium and as of5 June 2018, also in Sri Lanka.
The Employers Network of Youth Initiative (ENNYI), was established in 2015 by the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) with technical expertise from the ILO, to provide internship as well as training/apprenticeship opportunities targeting undergraduates and newly graduated students from the state universities. Since its creation, the network has expanded to accommodate those graduating from the National School of Business Management (NSBM). It has also linked up with the National Youth Corps to find opportunities for ‘early school leavers’ who are in search of productive employment opportunities in the private sector.
ENNYIalso caters to young entrepreneurs to experience the world of work,andcurrently partners with the Universities of Colombo, Kelaniya, Ruhuna andSabaragamuwato expand its reach to all national universities in the coming months. The portal of the Network – ‘Empowerme.lk’ – allows youth from partner educational institutions to link up with employers. ‘PicWork’, another recent initiative of the Network provides aspiring students/undergraduates a short orientation ofprivate sector employment opportunities and has yielded positive results. Despite its challenging mission, the success of the Network in a relatively short time has earned accolades, both at home and abroad.
ENNY’srecognition as GAN Sri Lanka, is a reflection of the EFC’s and its members’ commitment to provide youth with skill advancement opportunities and augment pathways to productive employment.While underlining the importance of employers’ involvement in assisting the country’s youth, EFC Director General Kanishka Weerasinghe averred: “It is incumbent upon all employers to provide opportunities and harness the skills of the country. We cannot afford to leave out anyone from achieving their goal of contributing to full and productive employment or entrepreneurship, as the case may be.A young graduate aspiring to join the public sector as a regulator/administrator will also find the ‘private sector experience’ an invaluable starting point for his/her career.”
Although the country has been experiencing low unemployment rates for some time, the underlying causes for high youth unemployment, which is currently estimated at 20%, have not been adequately addressed, says the EFC’s DG.“The purpose of establishing ENNYI is to provide a linkage between our youth and employers and thereby enable young job seekers to better understand the diverse opportunities available to themand to hone their skills asthe next generation of employers and business leaders”. Currently the EFC, as the National Employers’ Organization, with its direct membership of over 670 employers, together with its affiliated Associations including National Chambers of Commerce, Industry Chambers as well as Regional Business Member Organizations, is committed to expanding its reach to generate more employment opportunities.Related initiatives, such as the ‘Skills for all’ programme designed by the EFC, acts as an informationhub to TEVET institutions and universities in terms of employers’ skills requirements.Policyinitiatives linked to the future of work, the informal economy, and such as the Employers Network on Disability have strengthened the EFCs capacity to create more employment opportunities.
Welcoming ENNYI as part of its GAN Network, Shea Gopaul, Executive Director of the Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN) which is headquartered in Geneva, commended the EFC’s Youth Network for its commitment in increasing work opportunities for youth.“We are proud to welcome ENNYI/EFC to our growing global network of committed organisations contributing to and spearheading the global apprenticeship movement – Skills for Business – Jobs for Youth.”