The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) launched its Employers’ National Network of Youth Initiatives (ENNYI) at the EFC premises.
The main objective of the ENNYI is to provide a window for undergraduates into the real world of work through internships offered by the EFC’s member companies. These include leading corporates in the country as well as multi-national companies.
Established in 1929 as an organisation of employers dealing with labour and social issues in Sri Lanka, EFC has today evolved into the principal organisation of employers promoting equitable labour relations at national level.
The EFC’s membership comprises 620 plus employers, representing diverse business interests as well as 30 Affiliated Business Associations together employing close to a million people. The EFC provides its members a broad spectrum of direct services including consultations and advice on industrial relations, facilitating workplace dispute resolution and training.
Speaking on the importance of ENNYI,
Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Director General/CEO Kanishka Weerasinghe said: “Through the ENNYI, we hope to provide a common platform for undergraduates as well as newly graduated students to link up with employers, with the objective exposing them to the realities in world of work. In the case of undergraduates, we will be linking up with our State universities and other training institutes to provide them with ‘internships’. New graduates will have the opportunity to apply for ‘apprenticeships/training’ that could lead to job placements.”
He further noted that ENNYI will be optimised as a platform to bring these important stakeholders closer and create a ‘win-win’ situation for both parties.
Making his observations about this venture of national importance, International Labour Organisation Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Donglin Li said that productive and well-structured internships are recognised and promoted by the ILO as an instrument to increase youth productivity and employability together with facilitating school to work transition.
“The office of the ILO for Sri Lanka and the Maldives is proud to be associated with the EFC to launch of the internship programme to support the growth of skilled youth employment in line with the Government policy to create more employment opportunities. Internships provide a conduit for employers to be acquainted with young talent available for prospective employment and their innovative ideas and technology to improve productivity and efficiency.”
The Country Director further asserted that such schemes will assist undergraduates to gain an ‘insider’s view’ and understand work place environment along with exposure, available career paths and networking opportunities. Such experience and enhanced technical and social knowledge will in turn allow these youth to make informed choices of future career path, he said.
“Interventions to improve quality and relevance of skills to equip youth to make a smooth transition from school to decent work are of paramount importance. For the ILO, the promotion of job opportunities and decent work for young people is at the heart of its Decent Work Agenda.”
He added that the ILO is committed to working with the Government and its social partners in improving the quality and relevance of skills training programs to ensure that youth are equipped with the necessary skills and tools to make a smooth transition from school to ‘decent’ work.
The lack of exposure prevents the majority of local graduates in adapting to the world of work, observed Dr. Chandana Aluthge, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Department of Economics, University of Colombo.
Dr. Aluthge, who is the Coordinator, Banking and Finance Stream and the Co-Coordinator for economics special students of the ENNYI, pointed out that as means of bridging this gap and giving a head start for the undergraduates, many national universities of ours are now exposing their students to the real world of work before graduation.
“The ENNYI initiated by the EFC is therefore timely and visionary. This programme will assist the university system enormously and as a national university stakeholder, I applaud this venture.”