Switching gears for a brighter future
Meet one of the young women challenging gender stereotypes and finding employment in Sri Lanka’s automotive sector.
A little encouragement can go a long way on the pathway to employment. This was certainly the case for Shanika Seuwandhi who is currently following her passion as a motorcycle mechanic in Sri Lanka, despite the obstacles she encountered as a young woman growing up in a rural community.
Shanika’s entry into employment was not an easy one. When Shanika was just 16 years of age, her father passed away suddenly from a heart attack. Shortly after, her mother became ill. Within the span of a few short years, Shanika suddenly found herself responsible for providing for her family. With a limited education, however, few opportunities for employment were available to her.
Her options at first appeared grim; youth unemployment rates in Sri Lanka are more than two times higher for women as for men. And there are very few opportunities for young women to gain access to quality training and support to enter into well-paid and in-demand careers in the trades. Thankfully, a friend told her about the Motorcycle Mechanic course available through the Kavantissa Vocational Training Centre (KVTC).
This course receives scholarships and sponsorship from WUSC. These scholarships support young women and men from disadvantaged backgrounds. In collaboration with established training partners in Sri Lanka, such as KVTC, we help provide six-month vocational programs across the country. We also work with Sri Lankan businesses to match students to existing job opportunities upon graduation.
Shanika was fascinated by the intricate workings of machines and eagerly wanted to register for the training. But automotive maintenance is not a traditional career path for a young Sri Lankan woman. She decided then and there to not let gender stereotypes prevent her from following her passion and applied.
Shanika’s teachers played an important role in helping her overcome the barriers facing young women in the automotive sector. Seeing her potential, they helped Shanika kickstart her career as a motorcycle mechanic. Shanika has since graduated and is now a trainee mechanic at Kumara Motors. With our support and her determination, she is well on her way toward building a viable, rewarding, and well-paid career to support herself and her family for the years to come.
Through scholarships, support, internships, and job placements, WUSC is equipping unemployed youth with skills, education, and confidence to support themselves and their families. We are also empowering young women to thrive in traditionally male-oriented careers, paving the way for future generations of young women.
This holiday season, help us reach more youth like Shanika. Make a donation to WUSC and give to education, employment, and empowerment programs that make a difference.