Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe addressing the Summit. Pic by Nisal Baduge
By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
Sri Lanka, at the moment, is successfully tackling a number of issues, but concerns around human resources are an area, which neither the private sector nor the public sector is anywhere close to addressing, according to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
While stressing it is essential to capitalise on the nation’s human resources, given the development agenda Sri Lanka aspires to follow, Premier Wickremesinghe said: “I don’t think the economy, the businesses, the private enterprises nor the public enterprises are anyway geared to look at the issues concerning employment and the job market. “As far as the education sector is concerned, it is about a large number of petty things, mismatches, and certainly no one has ever thought of catering to the demand that the market requires.”
The Prime Minister made these observations while delivering the keynote address at the inauguration of the Sri Lanka Human Capital Summit 2016 in Colombo last evening.
Wickremesinghe addressed a fully packed audience that consisted of top profiles across diverse sectors, on the topic ‘Sri Lanka as Talent Capital’.
With the unity government having exhausted approximately a year and a half from its five-year term, he noted that the government is running out of time and there is a dire need to “open up”. It was stressed that the opening up requires a change in mind-sets across all levels.
“We need to open up. So all our planning on human development and human skills must take that big transformation into mind. It is not about how many IT professionals are there, it is about how many are willing to make a change in their mind-set.
“When you make the change then you can tackle the other problems. The government is committed to this but time is not with us. We need to go ahead, to open up,” he asserted, while pointing out three scarcities the nation is currently faced with— power, water, and human resources—the latter being the most challenging element to address.
Wickremesinghe deliberated that as a starting point the government is working on ensuring education to employment continuum. With approximately 60 percent of students drop out at O/Ls, it was shared that within the next two years, as an election commitment, the government will bring in 13 years of compulsory education.
Going a step further, the government also plans on bringing in an Education & Employment Act, which would cover the basic legal framework through which policies can be implemented.
Plans are also underway in converting the National Human Development Council into an implementation agency. In addition to its current role, the reformed agency would have the powers to deal with employment consultation and other job placement centres.
Not leaving out the approximate one million skilled individuals currently working overseas, the Premier said work is being carried out by the Ministry of Strategic Development to bring in growth in productivity, and change of culture, two key elements which would help pull back the lost talents.
“We must not look at how we can go up the ladder but how we can carry everyone up the ladder. What I don’t want to be is a country that will keep on supplying trained manpower to the rest of the world. It is time that we added value for the services we can supply,” he said in conclusion.
Objectives of proposed Education & Employment Act
- nTo develop human resources with the goal on improving standard of living and quality of life of all Sri Lankans by promoting a highly developed skilled and a globally competitive workforce, thereby building a strong economy.
- To address the structure of job supply and formal education based on coherent policies to rationalise education, training and employment programme anchored in economic policy, thereby ensuring greater synergies between economic growth on one hand and education and the labour market policies in the other.
- Enhance female participation in the
- Promote lifelong learning and upgrading of skills and professional qualification of employees.
- To provide the fullest possible opportunity for each employee without discrimination. To use his or her skills and knowledge in the job for which he or she is best suited thereby improve the quality of life and the working population in promoting effective public private partnership.