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According to Major General Nandasiri Mallawaarachchi (Rtd) who is the Director General of the Department of Multi-purpose Development Task force, the vision of the department is “a proud, disciplined and capable, satisfied young workforce”, whereas the mission is “for providing a qualitative vocational training mainly to low income youth who have missed the minimum educational opportunities and making them active partners in national economic development.”

“This is the first time in Sri Lanka that a large number of people is recruited to the public service following a formal training. The opportunity was made open for all Sri Lankans to apply for vocational training on January 20, 2020 under the first phase and applications closed on February 15, 2020. Consequently, 645,608 persons directed for interviews in 332 Divisional Secretary’s divisions and 34,066 persons were referred for job training at the commencement of the first phase,” Mallawarachchi said.

Vocational training of NVQ level – 3 is provided to the trainees during six months by the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority. Training is provided under 25 vocational sectors in view of the talents, skills and the preferences of the trainees. The persons who got the appointment for the training expected to report to the Divisional Secretariat. The vocation for which the person should be trained is determined subsequent to a skill test within the first week of the training period.

According to the management service circular No 2/25020, filling vacancies in the primary grades in the public service has been suspended and the departments and agencies have been instructed to recruit persons through multi-purpose development task force assistants.

Essential services and the majority of government institutes functioning in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic have been provided the assistance of the multipurpose development assistants waiting to be detailed for jobs disregarding their specific fields of vocational training. Some 3,000 multipurpose development assistants have been attached to hospitals and intermediary quarantine centres for pandemic prevention duties.

Primary job categories

The Department assists in providing manpower concerning primary job categories in road development, tank rehabilitation, carbonic fertiliser production, environment and coast guarding, preservation of archaeological monuments and narcotic prevention programs.

At the request of the Education Ministry, these multipurpose development assistants are being deployed in the task of performing schools security and other routine school labour activities.

Although it was planned to activate phase two of the recruitment of 35,000 qualified persons for training, on the instructions of the Government, the program has been limited drastically.

It had been proposed to deploy them in human-elephant conflict areas including the protection of the electrified fence system and to fill the vacancies in primary grades waiting to be filled in the Colombo district.

However, a batch of 4,509 trainees has been issued appointment letters for electric fence maintenance and protection duties on the request of the Wildlife Conservation Department in the last quarter of 2021. The National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA) makes arrangements to grant them the NVQ – 3 level on electric fence maintenance.

It is expected to refer these employees qualified with training to foreign job opportunities with the agreement of the Foreign Employment Bureau. Multi-purpose development assistants are being encouraged to contribute to social welfare activities. For example, a blood donation campaign was held in December covering the Northern Province in Mullathivu, Kilinochchi and Jaffna in collaboration with Medical Health officers. Trainees attached to the Horowpothana Sri Lanka Transport Board Depot have repaired a discarded bus enabling it to be put in transport service again.

Mallawaarachchi said, “It has been planned to commence phase three of the training program in 2022 under the auspices of the Treasury. We will issue appointment letters to around 34,000 trainees who have gained the NVQ – 3 qualifications.” 

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