IT skills pave the way to 100 % employability and higher education

When SOS Children's Villages Sri Lanka implemented IT courses in Monaragala and Galle, the lives of young people living in poverty changed for the better. Over 90 % of the participants earned a certificate - which is the basis for getting employed or pursuing higher education and every single one of them succeeded.

Since 2008, 320 young people went through the National Vocational Qualification course, and 93% of them got the certification. The national and international recognized certificate allows young people to pursue higher education studies or find higher qualified jobs in Sri Lanka. This has been possible thanks to the partnership with the ministry of vocational training.

From student to Principle Software Engineer

Tharushi took her first IT steps in the SOS Children's Village Nuwara Eliya in early 2000 and got enthusiastic about the new skills. "I completed the IT Degree at the University of Colombo with help from OpenArc Computer School scholarship while working as a software developer to support my studies", she says. "Even though I initially wanted to become an accountant, after experiencing the 

computer world my dream changed to IT software field. I have worked with world-class clients in ERP, Event Management, and eLearning business domains during the last 10+ years. I now working as a Principle Software Engineer in a reputed company in Sri Lanka."

IT skills: From zero to job

At the beginning of the project, the level of IT skills of the participants was between zero and very low. With this level they did not have a chance to find a decent job or pursue higher education studies.

The integration of a recognized IT course in our Vocational Training Centres was really needed. In Sri Lanka, people need to have an IT certification in order to get a decent job or if they want to pursue higher education studies”, said Divakar Ratnadurai, Director Programmes of SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka.

In Monragala IT has been integrated as one of the courses of the Vocational Training Centre. This did not only benefited the young people attending the course but also to the surrounding community. Now technology is being integrated into the community through the acquisition of mobile phones or laptops out of the interest the families and surroundings of this youth have seen.

Sahan: VTC Monaragala changed my life

Sahan, a student from VTC Monaragala, attended Mahanama National School in Monaragala up to the Advanced Level Examination, he did not qualify for university. "I was not a promising student until I entered SOS Vocational Training Centre in Monaragala in the field of computer studies", Sahan recalls. "I was not in a position to repeat the G.C.E. (Advance Level) Examination due to financial problems faced by my family. At this point I decided to enter the SOS VTC. There I realized that I have a greater opportunity to achieve a better life. Disciplined life and free education at the SOS VTC Monaragala changed my entire life. It was the SOS VTC that paved the way for me to be successful. Currently, I am in the final year in UNIVOTEC, soon I will graduate as an IT Engineer."

In Galle the course is taking place in a computer centre in the youth programme. It does not only benefit to SOS young people, but it has been opened to the community.

Course structure

The course takes place during 720 hours divided in 6 months, where the following areas are covered:

  • Maintaining files and folders
  • Prepare word processing
  • Prepare spread sheet
  • Prepare presentation
  • Maintain database
  • Apply IT for communication
  • Install an configuration of operating system, network, develop statistics web page and software solution (visual Basic)

100 % success for certificate owners

93% of young people successfully passed the certification. 100 % of them successfully moved on: Those who wanted to find a job have integrated into the job market. The rest has pursued higher education studies. Internships are also being offered to the ones that want to integrate the job market. 60 % want to pursue higher education and 40% integrate the job market. In both cases success rate is 100%.

"The VTC in Monragala also offers courses in bakery, moto mechanics, electrical, wood crafting, welding. The employment success rate is close to 100%", Divakar Ratnadurai says. Further studies are possible. "Once they go for 3 and they can continue to 7 and they get a professional academy degree. But they need to go for the university. It’s a way for them to go to university. But for every profession this level of IT is required. For all the jobs IT is one of the requirements, so young people need to have this level offered by SOS."

SOS job database: 50 % find job through platform

Additionally, SOS Sri Lanka maintains a job database for collecting and listing useful job advertisements for SOS youth. "The administrator is one of the youth leaders in Colombo", Divakar explains. "One person in each location uploads job offers. The database was created by a young person and contains around 40 jobs. 50 % of people find a job through the platform."

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