For competitive advantage in retail sector
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission to Sri Lanka has sent positive vibes on a call to strengthen the workforce skills of the country’s largest state owned retail store chain, Lanka Sathosa.
“We are empowered to work with the private sector” stressed USAID’s Deputy Head of Mission in Colombo Ms Elisabeth Davnie Eston during her meeting with the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen on 22 August at the Minister’s office, Colombo 3. The five member USAID team led by Ms Davnie Eston was meeting Minister Bathiudeen to map out ways and means in which USAID could collaborate on ventures of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka. During this meeting Minister Bathiudeen called to enlist the USAID Mission here to boost soft skills of Lanka Sathosa personnel on par with the country’s competitive retail market environment at large.
From 1999-2003 USAID worked with the Ministry of Industry on the ‘The Competitiveness Initiative’, more recently at the request of Rishad Bathiudeen, USAID support was extended to formulate the Export Strategic Plan for 2015 – 2020, Fair Trade Certification, the promotional strategy for Ceylon Cinnamon in the US market, efficient energy management for export oriented coconut based industries in Wayamba, review of the handloom industry and livelihood support for war widows.
“The Ministry of Industry and Commerce has been working with USAID since 2005 in various initiatives to enhance its . “I thank USAID for the ongoing support being extended to us. We have launched many initiatives to develop Lanka Sathosa to make it competitive. We welcome a compatible skills training project at USAIDS to enhance Lanka Sathosa staff.”
USAID reps positively responded to Minister Bathiudeen’s request for support saying that the Mission wishes to see the store chain fulfill its mandate of serving Sri Lankan consumers well, and act as the “nation’s price setter.”
“USAID’s support to Sri Lanka includes leveraging expertise for private sector development, and conducting various skill building programs including training support to cater to the needs of the market. We are empowered to work with the private sector” said Ms Eston, and added: “Our program on building skills is focused on school-leavers. It has three elements-enhancing student skills, institutional capacity and entrepreneurship skills. There are possibilities to develop Lanka Sathosa workforce and recruits’ skills as well through this program. Our support shall not be in providing routine direct training found in other similar programs –likely to be in Training the Trainer, and curricular development. This skills enhancing programme needs to be designed for Lanka Sathosa’s workforce productivity and efficiency. We are also planning three regional USAID training offices in Sri Lanka co-locating with regional Chambers, and these regional offices can become the regional training centres for Lanka Sathosa staff.”
Minister Bathiudeen, upon receiving such a positive response, directed his top officials to promptly set up a skills training unit that will take the process forward.