President calls for streamlining of foreign employment sector | Daily News


President calls for streamlining of foreign employment sector

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has instructed the relevant officials to expedite and streamline the process of sending skilled labour with internationally-recognised 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, the President said.

He made these remarks at a meeting to discuss future activities of the State Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotions and Market Diversification, which was held at the Presidential Secretariat on Tuesday.

The demand for skilled workers in the global job market remains high. Emphasising the need to implement training programmes targeting job markets in countries such as Korea and Japan, President Rajapaksa 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, the President said. He also highlighted the importance of identifying overseas employment opportunities that are available for graduates of the country. So far, no attention has been paid to the matter, he said, adding that even undergraduates in the Arts stream could seize these opportunities.

Migration for employment is a major component in Sri Lanka’s economic development; 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 the COVID-19 pandemic, that 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 with the aim of sending a greater number of trained workers abroad once the airports and airspaces are opened with the successful control of the 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 could 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 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, President’s Secretary P.B. Jayasundera, secretaries to Cabinet and State Ministries and heads of Line Institutions were also present at the discussion.