Our Work


Skilled and Resilient Migrant Workers Project (SRMW)

Funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), IESC implemented the $1.5 million Skilled and Resilient Migrant Workers Project (SRMW). SRMW was designed to make overseas employment safer and more rewarding by providing better occupational information and by increasing the skill levels of Sri Lankans going abroad for work. It helped reintegrate returning workers by assessing their capabilities and linking them to employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in Sri Lanka. With more than 50,000 migrant workers returning to Sri Lanka due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the SRMW project came at a very critical time as many returnees have very few employment prospects. To deliver support to Sri Lankan migrant workers and civil society organizations working with migrants, SRMW leveraged the counseling, vocational skills development, and entrepreneurship support mechanisms built by YouLead. A summary of IESC’s impact through SRMW follows:

  • One of IESC’s most notable achievements under SRMW was the development of curricula on Occupational Career Guidance (OCG) and Post Return Career Guidance (PRCG). These modules empower prospective migrant workers with insights into skilled labor opportunities and support the sustainable economic reintegration of returned migrant workers into the Sri Lankan labor market.
  • In 2023, IESC established the first pilot Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Information Center, which will help facilitate skilled migration. The center is already serving as a pivotal space for conducting National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) assessments, strengthening opportunities for prospective or returned migrant workers to receive formal certification for technical skills.
  • 15,070 aspiring and returned migrant workers were provided with OCG and PRCG  in priority districts.

Tourism Resilience in Sri Lanka Project

The Tourism Resilience in Sri Lanka project (TRP) was a three-year project funded by the European Union and implemented by IESC from May 1, 2021 to April 30, 2024. The project focused on helping Sri Lanka’s tourism recovery and resilience efforts through the following objectives:

  1. Retain jobs and small businesses;
  2. Support sustainability, innovation, skills development, and resilience through the creation of a new signature experience focused on sustainability and community development; and,
  3. Build small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are aligned to the signature experience and better able to compete in the changing tourism landscape.

TRP was also an integral part of the USAID-funded Youth Employment and Business Startup Program (YouLead), also implemented by IESC, contributing over $2.5 million in cost share to YouLead.

Through TRP, IESC designed and developed a 300+ km hiking and walking trail network across Central and Uva Provinces—The Pekoe Trail. The trail has been mapped, assessed, and signposted, and every week hundreds of walkers explore the trail, which winds through the Sri Lankan tea country. The project also supported registration of The Pekoe Trail Company (Gte) Ltd, the independent destination management organization that will be responsible for management and upkeep of the trail after TRP ends. See the project’s website here: https://www.thepekoetrailsrilanka.com/

Across its three years, IESC achieved the following key results and impacts through TRP:

  • 1,117 business owners and youth participated in upskilling programs related to the hospitality industry to improve their tourism sector skills.
  • 271 tourism SMEs trained in workforce development, health and safety, and digital skills development.
  • 80 SMEs awarded small grants through two grants programs to help these business survive multiple economic shocks, mobilize capital, and support innovative new product development and diversification of tourism business and experiences along The Pekoe Trail.
  • 57 SMEs completed a five-month incubator to refine their business plans, receive expert mentorship, and ultimately capitalize on market opportunities from The Pekoe Trail to grow their businesses.
  • 3 research studies completed to analyze demand for the trail’s visitor volume; assess biodiversity of the trail, carrying capacity to absorb visitors, and entry points for conservation interventions; and identify best practices and guidelines for nature-based tourism as it relates to The Pekoe Trail.


The European Union and the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Unveil First Ever Long Distance Walking Trail

“Serendipity Trails”: SLTDA, EU & USAID kick off first long-distance walking trail


YouLead improves technical and vocational education and training and increases the employability of young people in Sri Lanka. YouLead creates a more skilled and flexible workforce through activities that support and strengthen students, teachers, and institutions.  Please read our most recent newsletter here.

Key Results Achieved to Date

To date, YouLead has achieved the following results:

  • 29,242 young Sri Lankans with new or better jobs
  • 32,249  youth completed project-assisted workforce development programs
  • 77,359 youth received career and occupational guidance and counseling services
  • 800 new businesses set up
  • 31,985 youth trained in social or leadership skills through project-assisted programs
  • 1,892 career /occupational guidance practitioners trained to better match students to careers
  • 76 technical curricula designed or improved
  • 1,866 trainers receiving training by YouLead

Funder: USAID
Project Duration: 2017-2024
Award: $18 million


Global Communities, American Chamber of Commerce, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Skills for Life, Verité Research


Business Start-up Training Programme – Trainer Guides 1-4 – English

Business Start-up Training Programme – Trainee Workbooks 1-4 – English


YouLead Impact Bulletin – Volume 3 Issue 4 – December 2023

YouLead Impact Bulletin – July 2023

YouLead Impact Bulletin – April 2023

YouLead Impact Bulletin – January 2023

YouLead Impact Bulletin – October 2022

YouLead Impact Bulletin – July 2022

YouLead Impact Bulletin – May 2022

YouLead Impact Bulletin – February 2022

YouLead Impact Bulletin – September 2021

YouLead Impact Bulletin – June 2021

YouLead Impact Bulletin – April 2021

Sri Lanka Youth Labour Market Assessment

Improving Youth Employment & Entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka: Insights and Strategies

YouLead in the News

USAID YouLead and Isobar Sri Lanka launch media campaign to empower and inspire youth

SDC and USAID join hands to launch the Safe and Resilient Migrant Workers (SRMW) project in Sri Lanka

USAID-funded YouLead Program in Sri Lanka Supports Verité Research in Identifying Ways to Improve youth entrepreneurship and employment

USAID-Funded YouLead! Programme Holds First Leadership Forum


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