Microsoft recently announced a new global skills initiative aimed at bringing more digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of the year.
The announcement comes in response to the global economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, the pandemic has put close to 75 million people out of work.
With a labor force of close to 8.9 million, the unemployment rate in Sri Lanka increased to 5.7 percent in the first quarter of 2020 from 4.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 (CEIC). Expanded access to digital skills is an important step in accelerating economic recovery, especially for the people hardest hit by job losses.
“COVID-19 has created both public health as well as an economic crisis,” said Hasitha Abeywardena, Country Manager, Microsoft Sri Lanka and Maldives. “As we move from the initial emergency response phase to the recovery phase to the reimagine phase, determining what should be rebuilt, what should be redefined, we need to ensure that no one is left behind, and address the needs of those most impacted by this crisis.”
This initiative includes immediate steps to help those looking to reskill and pursue an in-demand job and brings together every part of the company, combining existing and new resources from LinkedIn, GitHub and Microsoft.
“Today, we’re bringing together resources from Microsoft inclusive of LinkedIn and GitHub to reimagine how people learn and apply new skills—and help 25 million people facing unemployment due to COVID-19 prepare for the jobs of the future,” he said.
Connecting skills to opportunities. Providing low-cost access to industry-recognized certifications through the end of the year and free access to powerful job-seeker tools that will help people get hired once they have the skills and certifications.
These resources can be accessed at a central location, opportunity.linkedin.com, and will be broadly available online in four languages: English, French, German and Spanish.
Microsoft is backing the effort with cash grants to help nonprofit organizations worldwide assist those who need it most, including people with lower income, lower educational attainment and underrepresented minorities.
Recently, Microsoft and Sarvodaya-Fusion saw to the training of 200 Ministry of Youth trainers and Microsoft Innovative Education Experts in Sri Lanka. The partnership will see 150 youth participate in the Hour of Code and Make What’s Next campaign events.
The company is also pledging to make stronger data and analytics—including data from the LinkedIn Economic Graph—available to governments around the world so they can better assess local economic needs.
Microsoft will use its voice to advocate for public policy innovations that will advance skilling opportunities needed in the changed economy.
Later this year, Microsoft will preview a new learning app in Microsoft Teams designed to help employers skill and upskill new and current employees as people return to work and as the economy adds jobs.
Privatization option being considered for Sri Lankan Airlines – CEO Richard Nuttall
By Hiran H.Senewiratne
The government is planning to restructure the national carrier, Sri Lankan Airlines, and privatization is one proposed option due to the current financial crisis, Sri Lankan Airlines Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Richard Nuttall said.
“We are now looking at the privatization option as well because the government wants to restructure Sri Lankan Airlines, which is now preparing for the in- coming tourist season. So far we have enough bookings, Nuttall said at a press conference yesterday, which was called to announce, among other things, that Sri Lankan Airlines is the official airline partner for the Sri Lanka’s Masters Hockey World Cup 2022 in England, which will be held from August 12-21 in Nottingham. The press conference was held at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management auditorium.
Nuttall added: ‘We have 24 aircraft in the fleet, out of which three aircraft are not functioning as those engines have been sent to the Rolls Royce Company for overhaul purposes. At present the entire air industry is facing a unique crisis due to fuel issues. The high air fares are also troubling the industry but they will likely come down in the future.
‘Over the last two years, Sri Lankan tourism and the airline sector got badly hit and we are now in the process of putting infrastructure in place to revive the business and coming forward to sponsor the Masters Hockey World Cup 2022 at this critical juncture is intended to promote and attract tourists into Sri Lanka, which would in turn benefit the airline as well.’
Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chalaka Gajabahu said that they, being the main sponsor for the Sri Lanka team, had seen an opportunity to promote Sri Lanka tourism at the World Cup to boost forex inflows at a desperate time amid an economic crisis.
“These hockey Masters could be the best ambassadors to do and their part to keep the nation’s flag flying high and to continue with their good work, Gajabahu said.
According to the chairman, this year they expect close to one million tourists to Sri Lanka and are now in the process of rolling out a 15 -16 month action plan.
‘Sports tourism can be a major way of creating unity and friendship with other nations and spreading a positive message about Sri Lanka to the world, giving a realistic image and a clear description about the island destination, he said.
“This is not a short term goal but rather a long term one because many of the foreigners who hear about Sri Lanka could visit the country in the future. We see it as a golden opportunity through this partnership, he added.
Sri Lanka’s premier paint company, Nippon Paint Lanka (Pvt) Limited, is a co-sponsor of the team.
Heed people’s call for new political model
The people of Sri Lanka in the past few months have declared that there can be no reliance on old politicians and political models any longer, and there should be innovative thinking, while paying prompt attention to global changes.
The Sri Lankan people have made these demands for the past few months in non-violent, peaceful means, but were provoked into violence by the state and the discredited politicians who engineered and provoked violence, to brutally quash the legitimate demands for change in the political culture in the country.
As such, the people should not pay any heed to calls by a President, who does not have the people’s mandate to make any requests, demands or pleas on the people.
The current president may be president in the eyes of the Constitution or law – but he will never be the president of the people in spirit.
Furthermore, the political circumstances which culminated in the current President’s ‘selection cum election’ to office, by the vote of 134 members of parliament, necessitates an urgent and immediate change in the Political Model practices in Sri Lanka.
As such, we the people call on the President to recognise the root cause of the current economic crisis in the country, as indeed a political crisis, and call upon him to play his role in solving both the economic and political problems by resigning immediately, and making way for a new political model. Therefore, his call for a new economic model does NOT make any economic or political sense in the absence of introduction of a new political model as demanded by the people.
Would appreciate it if you would bring this to the notice of your readers.
Dr RUVAIZ HANIFFA
(For and on behalf of people who want genuine change in the political culture of Sri Lanka)
CSE’s bullish momentum continues; turnover hits Rs. 3 billion for fourth day running
By Hrian H.Senewiratne
The CSE began on a mixed note due to witnessing profit- takings in certain companies but later the bullish momentum resumed and the turnover reached more than Rs 3 billion for the fourth straight day yesterday. The market was mainly driven by blue chip companies, especially Lanka- IOC, which became the most sought after of stocks due to high profits, stock market analysts said.
It is said that the Lanka IOC and CPC are making heavy profits because the global oil market has come down to US $ 102 per barrel (Singapore Plates price formula) . Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Power & Energy has authorized the establishment of 50 new filling stations by Lanka IOC, the local unit of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).
LIOC Managing Director Manoj Gupta toldy the media that advertisements on the filling stations will appear in a week or so. “Sheds cannot be opened overnight. We will put out the advertisements and open them in fifty locations. The Ministry of Power and Energy has given approval. We will put out advertisements in a week or so, he said.
Sri Lanka is in the midst of a fuel crisis triggered by forex shortages. This has resulted in LIOC increasing its share price by 16 per cent or Rs 18.25. Its share price stepped up to Rs 131.25 from Rs 113 yesterday after concluding share-trading on the floor, stock market analysts said.
AgStar and Lanka Lubricants’ share prices appreciated by more than 16 per cent. AgStar is engaged in the business of importing, blending and marketing of fertilizer products. The company’s segments consist of Trading and Processing and there was a share price gain by 16.5 per cent or Rs 1.50. Its share price moved to Rs 10.60 from Rs 9.10 due to the government’s decision to lift the import ban on certain fertilizers, such as, Glyphosate, market analysts said. Lanka Lubricants’ share price appreciated by 16 per cent or Rs 13.50. Its share price moved to Rs 94.70 from Rs 81.20.
Amid those developments both indices moved upwards. The All- Share Price Index went up by 89.6 points and S and P SL20 rose by 86 points. Turnover stood at Rs 3.3 billion, with a single crossing. The crossing was reported in Melstacorp, which crossed 667,000 shares to the tune of Rs 30 million; its shares traded at Rs 30 million.
In the retail market, top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; Lanka IOC Rs 1.5 million (12.1 million shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 319 million (1.5 million shares traded), JKH Rs 199 million (1.6 million shares traded), LOLC Holdings Rs 132 million (235,000 shares traded), Melstacorp Rs 111 million (2.4 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 85.5 million (11 million shares traded) and LOLC Finance Rs 75.4 million (8.7 million shares traded). During the day 85.6 million share volumes changed hands in 28000 transactions.
However, foreign selling intensified last week with a net outflow of Rs. 475 million, thereby increasing the year date figure to Rs. 859 million. July saw net foreign inflow of around Rs. 784 million. According to stock brokers, the biggest foreign selling during last week was in Melstacorp (Rs. 415 million), followed by Expolanka (Rs. 62.2 million) and Windforce (Rs. 16 million), while net buying was seen in Richard Pieris (Rs. 25 million), JKH (Rs. 21 million) and Hayleys (Rs. 14 million).
Yesterday, the Central Bank announced the US dollar buying rate as Rs 357.14 and the selling rate as Rs 368.40. The rupee has begun to stabilize against the US dollar due to the prudential monetary policies adopted by the Central Bank, financial analysts said.
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