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United States supports Verité Research in identifying ways to improve youth entrepreneurship



The United States has supported Verité Research in producing its latest youth labor market assessment. The findings were presented to the public via a webinar titled, “Improving Youth Employment & Entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka: Insights & Strategies” on November 19. It was supported under the U.S. government’s development arm the United States Agency for International Development Agency (USAID)-funded youth skills development and entrepreneurship project, YouLead.

The assessment focused on developing innovative methods to improve employment and entrepreneurship among youth in Sri Lanka. Findings focused on overcoming challenges relating to youth unemployment and low female participation in the workforce and to promote entrepreneurship among youth.

USAID Mission Director Reed Aeschliman noted the importance of strengthening the entrepreneurial mindset that can lead to more gainful and self-employment of youth in Sri Lanka. He further emphasized the importance of increasing women’s participation in the economy and taking effective steps to create more economic opportunities for youth to foster sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Executive Director Verité Research Dr. Nishan de Mel, who led the research team, noted that this study aimed to tap into the extensive body of research available to devise quick and practical solutions the private sector and other stakeholders can use to unlock employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for youth in Sri Lanka.

The report’s key recommendations are:

1. Moving youth to Own-Account Work (OAW) – The assessment recommends re-thinking the path to youth entrepreneurship by encouraging and supporting youth to become own-account workers before becoming fully-fledged businesses. Verité estimates that if Sri Lanka can successfully promote OAW among youth in Sri Lanka, through awareness building about OAW and supporting access to markets via the usage of digital platforms, the country may see the setup of 216,000 new micro and small businesses in the future. This can also eventually lead to the creation of almost 400,000 new jobs in the country.

2. A case for state supported maternity leave benefits – The assessment proposes Sri Lanka to shift towards a state-supported maternity leave program via tax concessions. That way it will reduce the discrimination that women aged 20-40 years face in the labor market stemming from mandatory employer-funded maternity entitlements. Verité estimates that this could cost as little as 0.25% of tax revenue (Rs 4.2 billion) annually, much less than other government welfare and employment programs. This can lead to increased economic participation by women, helping to inject more income to households, cushioning the impact of post-Covid job losses, and acting as an economic stimulus to the private sector.

3. Engaging disengaged young women: The assessment finds that disengagement from the labor market is a gender problem in Sri Lanka, with 89% of those disengaged being women. However, nearly one out of every three disengaged young women are interested in working and Verité Research proposes implementing Return-To-Work programs with flexible working options to target women who have left the workforce for family-related reasons but are now interested in returning to work. Verité Research estimates that it could lead to the addition of a potential workforce of 243,000 new workers for the Sri Lankan labor market.

Charles Conconi, Project Director YouLead, concluded the program by thanking the Verité Research team’s efforts and USAID for supporting this valuable research. He emphasized that Youlead is committed to engage in practical and evidence-based interventions to improve youth entrepreneurship and women’s employment in Sri Lanka.

The full research report can be accessed here:

Youth Labour Market Assessment Sri Lanka

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Oil prices rise as Saudi Arabia pledges output cuts – Opec+




(picture BBC)

Oil-producing countries have agreed to continued cuts in production in a bid to shore up flagging prices.

Saudi Arabia said it would make cuts of a million barrels per day (bpd) in July and Opec+ said targets would drop by a further 1.4 million bpd from 2024.

Opec+ accounts for around 40% of the world’s crude oil and its decisions can have a major impact on oil prices.

In Asia trade on Monday, Brent crude oil rose by as much as 2.4% before settling at around $77 a barrel.

The seven hour-long meeting on Sunday of the oil-rich nations, led by Russia, came against a backdrop of falling energy prices.

Total production cuts, which Opec+ has undertaken since October 2022, reached 3.66 million bpd, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak.

Opec+, a formulation which refers to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, had already agreed to cut production by two million bpd, about 2% of global demand.


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Manpower services agency wins accolades for its contribution to foreign employment sector



Siraj Cafoor, Managing Director of Siraj Manpower Services receives the award

Its MD says. ‘go abroad only if you can work hard’

Siraj Manpower Services, one of Sri Lanka’s leading foreign employment agencies, was honoured with the Three-Star Award at the ‘Golden Awards’ 2023, organised by the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE). This award ceremony was organised to honour foreign employment agencies that have made a significant contribution to the development of the foreign employment sector, which is a major source of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka. Siraj Cafoor, Managing Director of Siraj Manpower Services, was presented with the award at the award ceremony which was held at the BMICH in Colombo under the patronage of Minister of Foreign Employment and Labour Manusha Nanayakkara.

Having been established in 2002, Siraj Manpower Services ( has earned a reputation in the field of foreign employment by winning the trust of customers for more than 20 years. It has been offering job opportunities in the Middle East countries such as Kuwait, Qatar, Dubai and Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia as housekeepers, drivers, sanitation workers, labourers and also jobs related to the apparel industry. All these workers are entitled to approved salary scales certified by the SLBFE.

“We always stand for the safety of workers who go abroad through our organisation. We work to solve the problems that arise in relation to the contracts that the workers have entered into. I must mention something special to those who go abroad for employment. That is, you should keep in mind that you go abroad only to work. Go abroad only if you can work hard. You have to remember that you are going abroad to earn some more money and achieve the advancement of your family.” said Siraj Cafoor.

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Direct flights between Istanbul and Katunayake to commence from August



A special discussion between Turkish Ambassador – Demet Sekercioglu and Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation – Nimal Siripala de Silva took place last week at the ministry office. The aim of the discussion was to seek authorization to commence direct flights from the Turkish Capital Istanbul to Katunayake, Sri Lanka. The Chief of Turkish Airlines’ South Asia Office Fathi Bozkurt was also present during the discussion.

Currently, Turkish Airlines connects with Sri Lanka through a route that includes a stopover in the Maldives, resulting in an additional travel time of one and a half hours. The delay caused by this routing is not favored by travelers, as emphasized by the Ambassador.

The Chief of Turkish Airlines requested for time and space to be allocated in order to initiate direct flights between Istanbul and Katunaike, thus providing convenience for Turkish tourists and travelers who prefer visit Sri Lanka.

The Minister announced that the request would be forwarded to the Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka and the Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) (Private) Limited. The aim is to establish direct flights between Istanbul and Katunayake starting from August this year.

Turkish Airlines, a renowned airline with a fleet of over 100 aircraft, offers flights connecting Europe’s Vancouver and New York. The Chief of Turkish Airlines said that the new service would not only benefit European travelers but also encourage them to travel to Sri Lanka.

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