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US$20m project launched to ‘enhance youth employability’

The project aims to foster entrepreneurship and provide vocational training.



The Maldives government on Wednesday launched a US$20 million project financed by the World Bank to foster youth entrepreneurship and provide technical and vocational skills.

The ‘Enhancing Employability and Resilience of Youth’ project is co-implemented by the higher education ministry and economic development ministry with the participation of local councils and women’s committees.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, Higher Education Minister Dr Ibrahim Hassan expressed concern with the high rate of unemployment among youth, which “lowers the standard of living, increases crime and makes the future bleak.”

As part of the project, skills development courses would be revised based on the findings of a labour market assessment to identity priority areas, he said. The project also involves setting up ‘youth hubs,’ issuing business loans and formulating ‘A 21st Century Skills Development Strategy.’

An entrepreneurship module would be offered to students who complete vocational education and training opportunities would be provided across the country for employment in tourism, construction and information technology.

The employment share of Maldivians in the booming tourism and construction industries – the main drivers of economic growth – is relatively low as both sectors attract many migrant workers. Nearly a quarter of Maldivian youth were not employed or engaged in education or training in 2017.

The World Bank’s board of directors approved the new project in June to help the Maldives “accelerate human capital accumulation, increase employment opportunities for young people, promote equitable economic and social progress in the country, and fulfill the vision for a climate sensitive Blue Economy.”

According to the World Bank, the project would also “focus on improving female labor-force participation in Maldives by fostering new skills development, such as programming bootcamps to empower young women to pursue home-based work in ICT-related services.”

Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough, country director for the Maldives, said at the time that the project would “test a diversified approach to skills and entrepreneurship that are responsive to the demand-led labor markets and the needs of the local population, particularly the most vulnerable groups.”

The total project cost includes a US$10 million grant and US$10 million loan from the International Development Association.