Remarks by USAID Sri Lanka and Maldives, Reed Aeschliman, at the launch of the Web Portal

Speeches Shim

Thursday, March 21, 2019

It is a great pleasure to be here at the launch of the portal. Any day we can support initiatives that contribute to the education, health, and employment of youth, be it in Sri Lanka or elsewhere in the world, is a good day. Young people are critical to global stability, economic growth, and development of today - and for the future. Recognizing youth participation as vital to development, USAID partners with the private sector, national governments, youth, and civil society across the world to build the capacity and empower the next generation of leaders.

Today, I am particularly proud to celebrate the launch of - a web portal that for the first time gathers all the elements young job-seekers and entrepreneurs need from career development, to job-matching, from access to finance, e-learning, and mentoring, in one place. What is significant about is that it is not just a platform. It is an ecosystem. An ecosystem that will grow and expand as more and more youth add to it and become part of the community, providing leverage to their ventures and ideas. would not have been possible without the generosity of the US tech giant, Microsoft, which needs no introduction. Founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Microsoft today is widely recognized as the most influential company in the software industry globally. Microsoft has spent over a decade and an estimated $3 million developing and perfecting the YouthWorks platform that powers—and they have provided it free of charge to the youth of Sri Lanka, thereby making it officially the first country in South Asia to implement this valuable Microsoft platform.

I also want to recognize those who have contributed to this platform and pledged to ensure its long-term success with continued content development and site maintenance. It would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of Headstart,, CareerMe, the Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training, e-thaksalawa, the US-based ServeYouth Foundation and of course the YouLead team.

This year, the U.S. Government is celebrating 71 years of bilateral partnership and more than 60 years of development and humanitarian support to Sri Lanka. During this partnership, USAID has invested more than 320 billion Sri Lankan rupees ($2 billion) in grant aid (not loans) benefiting all Sri Lankans in diverse fields such as agriculture, environment and natural resources, business development, health, education, governance and humanitarian assistance. Throughout the decades, we have also been supporting the youth of Sri Lanka to help them innovate, develop their capacities, and prosper in their chosen careers.

USAID’s USD 12 million YouLead project is currently helping to improve the employability of Sri Lanka’s youth by teaching them the skills that align with market demand, so that they can take advantage of the rapidly growing and changing Sri Lankan economy. platform is a perfect complement to the YouLead project, as it will disseminate vital information about vocational training and employment opportunities across the country, accelerate opportunities to train youth, and link them to available jobs.

During my several decade long career in the development field, I have also recognized the power of public private partnerships. I have witnessed first-hand, when public and private resources come together to support a common goal, how real progress takes place. Around the world, public-private partnerships have become a trendy way to finance large public and private projects. We have all witnessed and reaped the benefits of public private partnerships across sectors and around the world.

As USAID Administrator, Ambassador Mark Green states, each of USAID’s programs should look forward to the day when foreign assistance is no longer necessary, and we must measure our work by how far every investment moves us closer to that day. USAID is reorienting the way it does business. USAID is supporting partner countries on the Journey to Self-Reliance -- or, to put it another way, their ability to solve their own development challenges. This approach to development -- which prioritizes fostering stable, resilient, prosperous, inclusive, and self-reliant countries -- is good for our partners around the world, and make the most of American taxpayer investments.

In closing, I have a humble request to make. To all the partners of the platform, please continue your invaluable contributions to this platform and to the youth, please make maximum use of this one-stop-shop for everything related to careers and employment. Remember, countries need the full participation of its youth in development efforts if they are to end cycles of poverty; to build resilient, democratic societies; to improve health and nutrition outcomes; and to strengthen economies.

Let me also take this opportunity to congratulate all the stakeholders on this groundbreaking venture. I look forward to seeing the results of your collective efforts to help Sri Lankan youth grow.

Thank you.

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Issuing Country