The "Lighting Digital Youth Bootcamps" project, which commenced in 2021 and is currently ongoing, addresses a critical need in Sri Lanka—the empowerment of its youth with the knowledge and skills required to pursue successful careers in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry. The younger generation in Sri Lanka often lacks awareness about their potential and struggles to make informed career choices. This project emerged as a response to bridge this knowledge gap and motivate young Sri Lankans to consider ICT as a viable career option.
The ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) has been at the forefront of various initiatives to achieve the national vision of generating 3 billion dollars in export revenue. Central to this vision is the Digital Economy Strategy, which emphasizes the importance of enhancing the skills of citizens at all levels to boost employability. ICTA's ambitious goal is to create a workforce of at least 300,000 ICT professionals, with half of them possessing specialized skills.
To achieve these numbers, ICTA has recognized the need to tap into diverse segments of the population, including NVQ holders, non-ICT jobholders, housewives, job seekers, school leavers, and undergraduates who may not have initially considered ICT as a career path. It has become evident that these individuals possess digital competencies that, when harnessed, can contribute significantly to the national GDP.
The "Lighting Digital Youth Bootcamp Initiative" aims to empower 34,000 youths across the country by equipping them with employment-focused digital skills essential for joining the ICT workforce. This initiative plans to conduct regional-level bootcamps in collaboration with various stakeholders, industry partners, and interest groups to provide proper guidance and help participants attain the necessary qualifications for ICT careers. Additionally, it seeks to encourage Sri Lankan youth to choose technology as their career path, enhance their digital skills, promote freelancing and digital entrepreneurship, and create a conducive environment for ICT growth.
The objectives of the project are multifaceted: to increase the employability potential of youth in the ICT industry, to motivate Sri Lankan youth to pursue careers in ICT, and to enhance ICT skills among the younger generation. The project scope includes a 4-day residential bootcamp, career guidance, training on relevant topics, mock interviews, talent shows, industry partnerships, scholarships, and improved linkages within the ICT ecosystem.
The project has made significant strides toward its goals, with the completion of five bootcamps, involving 657 participants. These bootcamps have not only imparted valuable skills but have also nurtured entrepreneurship, resulting in the creation of 11 startups by the participants. Furthermore, 75 individuals have chosen to become freelancers, 175 have joined the Digital Marketing Association of Sri Lanka (DMASL), 447 have become members of the Computer Society of Sri Lanka (CSSL), and 102 have joined the British Computer Society (BCS). Additionally, 10 participants have started following BCS courses, and 22 have successfully entered the workforce.
The intended learning outcomes of the project are diverse and comprehensive. Participants are expected to identify their career passions and competencies, enhance their ability to find suitable opportunities, develop professional resumes, and excel in interviews. They will also develop confidence, professionalism, and communication skills. In terms of practical skills, participants will gain the ability to develop simple websites, host and maintain them, design logos, create animations, and edit videos using online tools. Moreover, they will understand how to interpret marketing data, develop digital marketing plans, and implement them effectively. Additionally, participants will be equipped with the skills needed to identify suitable qualifications, upskilling programs, and appropriate training opportunities. Finally, the project aims to foster an entrepreneurial spirit by enabling participants to form startups and establish valuable connections with other partners in the ICT ecosystem.