President Gotabaya Rajapaksa instructs relevant officials to expedite and streamline the process of sending skilled labour with internationally recognized qualifications and certificates for foreign employment.
A mechanism of this nature will be instrumental in securing higher benefits to both the employee and the country, President points out.
President made these remarks at a meeting to discuss future activities of the State Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotions and Market Diversification held at the Presidential Secretariat.
The demand for skilled workers in the global job market remains high. Emphasizing the need to implement training programmes targeting job markets in countries such as Korea and Japan President advised the Foreign Employment Bureau and the Vocational Training Authority to formulate joint strategies. Employment opportunities in North European countries including Poland and Romania are now open to Sri Lanka. A workforce meeting demands in such markets should be created, President said.
President also highlighted the importance of identifying overseas employment opportunities that are available for graduates of the country. So far, no attention was paid to this matter. Even undergraduates in Arts stream can seize these opportunities.
Migration for employment is a major component in Sri Lanka’s economic development and the total migrant community of Sri Lanka stands at 1.2 million at present. It was revealed that around 200,000 go abroad for employment annually and due to COVID – 19 pandemic the number has decreased to 40,000. Classes have already begun at 17 training centers to establish a pool of trained labour needed for the overseas job market to provide them with the opportunity to enhance their language skills and to acquire required training with the aim of sending a greater number of trained workers abroad once the airports and airspaces are opened with the successful control of COVID – 19 pandemic.
The President also instructed the Bureau of Foreign Employment to hold discussions with the relevant agencies and sectors to extend the employment contracts of workers who are unable to return to the Motherland due to the COVID-19 situation, though their employment contracts have expired.
State banks must stand on workers behalf to facilitate remittance of their foreign exchange earnings. This endeavour can be promoted by introducing more attractive and creative schemes, said Basil Rajapaksa, the Head of the Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival. ‘State Banks can implement a mechanism to deliver foreign exchange remittances sent by migrant workers to their respective homes, said the head of the Task Force adding that through this kind of initiative we could prevent the informal currency transfers, such as Undiyal.
Employment agencies that send workers abroad should act in a more responsible manner. The President also said that there were allegations that the intervention of these institutions was not sufficient in dealing with cases of harassment involving these workers. President Rajapaksa also stated that the prime objective of sending workers abroad is not to earn foreign exchange but to provide them with a better standard of living.
Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, State Minister Priyankara Jayaratne, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera and Secretaries to Cabinet and State Ministries, Heads of Line Institutions were also present at the discussion.