Sri Lankans fail to secure highly paid employment opportunities overseas

The Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) has directed the Foreign Employment Ministry and the Bureau of Foreign Employment (BOFE) to prepare an efficient programme within two weeks to send skilled and trained workers for overseas jobs in collaboration with vocational training institute.

The COPA directive follows the allegations that Sri Lanka has failed to grab the opportunity to secure highly paid employment opportunities for Sri Lankans in the global job market.

The COPA met last week in Parliament under the chairmanship of SJB Parliamentarian Kabir Hashim to examine the performance and the audit report on the evaluation of the role to be played by the government to secure more employment opportunities for skilled Sri Lankans.

Chairman Hashim pointed out that although there was a great demand for skilled workers for foreign jobs, it is a serious concern that it is not possible to send trained workers who meet the demand. In 2021 this figure has reached a low percentage of 33%. The committee pointed out that this was due to the lack of proper coordination between the relevant responsible institutions.

The COPA emphasized the need for the Ministry of Foreign Employment and the BOFE to implement an efficient programme with a new plan to train workers in the relevant fields paying attention to the new job markets in the world.

The Committee also drew attention to the fact that a national migrant labor policy had been prepared but not implemented and therefore, policies should be updated periodically before implementation.

It was revealed at the COPA that an agreement has been signed in 2017 with the US to send 425 Sri Lankan trained nurses to the US. Among those who applied only 3 applicants got through the English proficiency test (IELTS) and were able to secure highly paid nursing jobs in the US. Between 22014 and 2022, Sri Lanka has received 1.6 million job opportunities from many developed countries and emerging markets for skilled and trained labour but has sent only 37,000 Sri Lankans for these jobs. In Japan alone, there are vacancies for over 1.4 million Sri Lankans in the IT sector but none has been sent.

In countries like Japan, Korea and Israel, although there is scope for sending trained workers, it was revealed that the number of trained workers going abroad from Sri Lanka is decreasing due to the drop in the number of people with language proficiency and professional skills suitable for jobs in those countries. The Committee pointed out that the BOFE should operate to cater to these open job opportunities through the relevant ambassadorial relations and to train workers with professional skills.

At a time when the country is in an economic crisis, the Committee pointed out at length the need to identify and promote these foreign employment sectors as a source of foreign exchange earnings. (Sandun A Jayasekera)

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