Science and Technology Minister Professor Tissa Vitarana told The Island yesterday that opportunities for employment in the field of IT could be gained more effectively through the English medium.
This was the reason for President Mahinda Rajapaksa to declare year 2009 as the year of English and IT, he said.
Vitarana was the chief guest at a ceremony held earlier this week at the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA) to establish a training centre to train youth on IT and other foreign languages including English.
He said: "NAITA is now trying to improve both these sectors with facilities to improve the knowledge of our youngsters in other foreign languages too. This would help the youngsters in rural areas too".
The Chairman of NAITA, Amal Senadilankara, Minister of Vocational and Industrial Training, Piyasena Gamage and Professor Ruwan Weerasinghe of the Colombo University also spoke on the importance of English and IT.
It was also mentioned at the meeting that Sri Lanka is not in a position to fill even 30 per cent of foreign employment opportunities for skilled labour.
The main obstacle is said to be inefficiency in foreign languages including English. If this lapse is overcome, it is expected that remittances from foreign employment which is the main source of income of the country could be doubled if sufficient knowledge is gained in foreign languages, mainly English
NAITA also looks forward to training youth for employment in software engineering, hardware engineering and systems analysis.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the School of IT of the University of Colombo and NAITA which would enable these students to sit an IT Degree conducted by the University of Colombo.
In addition to this, a MOU signed between the Ministry of Science and Technology and NAITA, IT training would be would be provided to students in rural areas through Vidatha Centres located island-wide.