Promoting inclusive growth and skills for prosperity

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On 21 July 2017, Scope Global launched a Skills Development Fund for Sri Lanka, which will finance innovative new training packages for the tourism industry in four districts. The fund will support the districts of Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Ampara and Polonnaruwa to develop their hospitality sectors.

Launched by Australia’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Bryce Hutchesson, along with the Sri Lankan Minister for Skills Development and Vocational Training the Hon. Chandima Weerakkody, the new fund is part of the Skills for Inclusive Growth program, which Scope Global delivers in both Sri Lanka and Tonga on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Sri Lanka Skills for Inclusive Growth and Tonga Skills for Inclusive Growth programs seek to achieve improved economic outcomes for individuals and businesses, in line with the Australian Government’s commitments to economic growth and poverty reduction.

Mapping skills and needs in Tonga

Tonga Skills for Inclusive Growth facilitates inclusive economic growth, particularly in the outer islands, by supporting small business development and addressing barriers to participation in skills development for women, people with disabilities and those disadvantaged by geography.

Scope Global’s team in Tonga is working to strengthen national and island district-level economic planning structures by engaging with government ministries to map skills demands against economic development priorities and opportunities. This approach is starting to pay off; following endorsement of key skill development priorities by island councils, the program is working with training providers to design inclusive training programs such as a readiness for work program, pearl carving skills and whale watching skipper training.

Setting up for job creation in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Skills for Inclusive Growth takes a similar approach to that adopted in Tonga, and demonstrates how integrated skills development can support inclusive growth opportunities along the tourism value chain in the eastern and northern central provinces of the country. In doing so, the program supports sustainable job creation and employment, and increased opportunities for marginalised and disadvantaged people, particularly women and people with disabilities.

The first partnerships of the Sri Lanka program are with industry associations in the four districts and the Federation of Chambers of Commerce in Sri Lanka. These partners are currently supporting the piloting of multi-language video-based training in hospitality skills that will eventually reach up to 17,000 people.

An adaptive approach

Both programs practically demonstrate the Australian Government’s Strategy for Australia’s aid investments in education 2015-2020 and specifically the priority to promote ‘skills for prosperity’.

The programs are locally driven and align with national policies and partners, including the private sector. In delivering these programs, Scope Global recognises the complexity of the operating environments and the need to support multiple areas of change: individual economic outcomes, changes to businesses that work across a value chain, or changes across the skills sector more broadly.

In recognising this new way of working, the programs deploy an identify-validate-plan-deliver approach that ensures activities are based on a valid assessment of priority skill gaps, but which can be adapted and changed to meet emerging economic opportunities and skills demands.

This approach is adaptive and means the programs do not follow a fixed blueprint for implementation, but work flexibly, responding to opportunities where they arise. Scope Global tests multiple options to see which will best resolve a problem, while accepting there will always be some uncertainty about the final outcomes.

In practice, teams on the ground facilitate (as opposed to lead) inclusive skills planning with national and divisional planners. As demand emerges, program staff provide support to training providers and industry coaches through a skills development fund. By learning from what works and adapting to new contexts, both Sri Lanka Skills for Inclusive Growth and Tonga Skills for Inclusive Growth are able to focus on enabling poor men and women to become skilled workers, producers and entrepreneurs.