ICT Industry Skills Council gears to meet future challenges | Sunday Observer

ICT Industry Skills Council gears to meet future challenges

15 December, 2019
Chinthaka Wijewickrema
Chinthaka Wijewickrema

The ICT Industry Skills Council (ICTISC) is working to meet the demand for ICT professionals through an innovative and inclusive approach by addressing the employment challenges in the sector in a sustainable manner, Chairman, ICTISC, Chinthaka Wijewickrema said.

“We are geared to face future challenges with regard to the ICT industry and to this end will embark on new skill development initiatives to meet future demand. The ICTISC has created several platforms to boost ICT skills at the vocational and higher education level by integrating industry demand with academic learning,” he said.

The enthusiasm and curiosity among students was palpable since the much-awaited decision to introduce skill-based education in vocational and higher education would improve the employability quotient of Sri Lanka’s youth and show them various flexible paths to learn, earn and grow.

Talking about the private and public collaborations, he said that, creating avenues for private sector engagement has been a crucial strategic pillar for vocational sector success where many jobs could be created as IT users. Skills development faces several forms of market failures, including information.

A skilled person knows his or her skills, but a potential employer does not; if employers had all the information, their willingness to pay well for a skilled person would rise. The ICT industry orientation program and career fair are good interventions to address information asymmetry. Strategies for re-skilling and increasing the skills of the current workforce, as well as formal recognition of informally acquired skills, will also have to be reinforced. The initiatives taken by the ICT Industry Skills Council to address ICT employment challenges in the TVET sector could be considered as an important step towards supporting to harness the potential of the industry.

ICT Industry of Sri Lanka is going through a severe structural, demographical and technological shifts leading to a huge transformation in the nature of work. New entrants to the ICT Workforce should be skillful to face the challenge. ICT Industry presently has an annual shortage of 12,000 skilled workers. However, Tertiary and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector finds it difficult to employ the students coming out from the system due to the mismatch of the supply with the demand of the industry.

The ICTISC has been mandated to support the TVET sector to bridge the required skills gaps and creating links with the ICT industry to grab employment opportunities for TVET students, he said..

ICTISC has identified several key challenges for improving the required skills of the students coming out from the TVET sector such as expanding TVET sector collaboration with the IT industry, bridging the instructor knowledge gaps, improving the required infrastructure, and enhancing the soft skills of students.

In order to overcome the challenges, ICTISC is now driving unique initiatives to convert its demographic potential into a dividend that will fuel the TVET sector employment.

ICTISC is closely working with the industry partners for an industry demand-driven curriculum through blended learning models using eLearning contents and distance learning models, organizing a series of soft skills training sessions to upgrade the skills required by the industry, organising career fairs to create a link with the IT Industry, Technical Training Programs for teachers and students to upgrade their technical knowledge. A national campaign to change the perceptions over NVQ qualifications has been proposed by the ICTISC.

Having a one authoritative responsible body for managing and guiding the TVET education sector under the subject Ministry is timely to create a one voice in the TVET sector, he said.

The Council aims to prepare the Sri Lankan workforce for Digital Sri Lanka and make Sri Lanka an ICT skill hub for the global ICT industry. ICTISC is aligned with the ICT Industry vision of creating 350,000 skilled workforce, by 2025.

The ICTISC functions as the platform between the IT Industry and the vocational education sector.