An Echelon Media Company
Friday June 14th, 2024

Over 50 pct of Sri Lanka’s returned migrant workers plan to go back: IPS study

ECONOMYNEXT – Over 50 percent of returned migrants in Sri Lanka plan to re-migrate, with 84 percent of the 511 people surveyed believing their current skills are sufficient for re-employment overseas, a study has shown.

The study, conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) in a Skilled and Resilient Migrant Workers (SRMW) project surveying 511 return migrants in Sri Lanka, revealed that among the surveyed participants, 56 percent of respondents had taken steps towards re-migration, while 193 are considering re-migration within 2023.

The IPS said in a statement authored by Research Assistant Piyumi Ranadewa that, out of the 193 considering to re-migrate in 2023, 68 percent have not pursued further formal training.

As Sri Lanka unveils its Labour Migration Policy 2023-2027, it is timely to shed light on the importance of skill development for re-migration, the IPS said.

“In Sri Lanka, migration is seen as a promising pathway to improved job opportunities, as evident from the recent long queues at passport offices. A significant proportion of Sri Lankan migrant workers were in semi-skilled and low-skilled categories. Most labour migrants are concentrated in Middle Eastern countries, which are common destinations for both skilled and unskilled workers. This aligns with the study findings, which indicated that many of these migrants were engaged in elementary occupations (domestic workers and other low and semi-skilled categories) during their recent overseas employment,” the IPS said in its statement.

Although most re-migrants from Sri Lanka have been employed in lower-skilled jobs, the institute said, they have great potential to improve their prospects by acquiring new skills through upskilling. However, the practice of upskilling is not widespread among this group

“For example, Sri Lanka predominantly relies on foreign domestic workers among its migrant workers. However, there is a growing demand for specialised services like nursing and elderly care. These specialised jobs often offer better pay than foreign domestic workers. Enhancing the skills of returning domestic workers can open up job opportunities in sectors beyond domestic work, particularly in healthcare,” the IPS said.

According to the institute’s findings, most returnee migrant workers planning to remigrate believe their previous training or experience from overseas would suffice, overlooking the need for continuous skill upgrading. In scenarios where re-migration is not voluntary but a necessity due to compelling circumstances, the IPS said, individuals may be forced to re-migrate without the opportunity or motivation to upgrade skills to pursue better employment opportunities overseas.

“If returnee migrant workers consider upskilling, many often opt for informal training or overlook skill development due to perceived opportunity costs and age-related barriers associated with formal skill training programmes available in the country. They fear that dedicating time and resources to formal training might not yield immediate returns on investment, leading them to choose informal learning options instead. Additionally, age-related concerns can make some migrant workers reluctant to enrol in formal training, as they feel they are past the ideal age for learning new skills,” the report noted.

Another significant barrier to skill development for returning migrants, according to the researchers, is the lack of targeted and tailored training programmes. During a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) conducted in Anuradhapura, reluctance to undergo formal training on the grounds that there is no suitable training available in Sri Lanka for the specific machines used while working abroad, had been cited as an example. As these workers aspire to find better opportunities upon their return, the researchers said, access to advanced and customised training becomes a pivotal factor in their career growth.

The IPS said that, while Sri Lanka has taken many steps to provide support services for upskilling and skill recognition for migrant workers, such as the recent collaboration between the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) and the Vocational Training Authority (VTA) to offer specialised training tailored to foreign employment needs, concerns remain regarding the effective dissemination of vital information to the intended beneficiaries.

“As found in the IPS’ study, while a majority of respondents have completed their education up to Grade 10, surprisingly, only 20 percent were aware of National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) levels. Although returnee migrant workers tend to favour informal training, a notable 76 percent (out of 511 individuals) had not acquired Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) credentials. These credentials serve to formally acknowledge the skills acquired through informal means. This highlights a significant gap and lack of awareness regarding formal skill development and recognition among the respondents.”

While the self-perceived competence of returnee migrant workers is a positive attribute, relying solely on existing skills without further training and formal recognition of available qualifications may hinder the personal and professional growth opportunities of returnee migrant workers, the IPS noted.

Therefore, it is crucial to foster a culture of lifelong learning and skill development to support returnee migrant workers in their re-migration journey and enable them to thrive in a dynamic job market. This involves creating awareness about the importance of ongoing education and training and providing accessible and relevant learning opportunities.

In its statement, the IPS made the following recommendations:

  • Improve dissemination of information and guidance about skill development programmes and raise awareness about the importance of upskilling,
  • Facilitate awareness and accessibility to available skill development programmes through easily accessible user-friendly platforms like websites or mobile applications.
  • Foster collaboration between the public and private sectors and educational institutes to develop targeted training programmes specifically tailored for migrant workers planning to remigrate. These programmes should align closely with industry needs and incorporate hands-on experience.
  • Establish networking and mentorship programmes that connect migrant workers with professionals in their fields, providing guidance, collaboration opportunities, and skill enhancement support.
  • Promote existing RPL and accreditation of informal skills, encouraging migrant workers to pursue upskilling opportunities.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sri Lanka opposition leader proposes Grama Rajya system in addition to 13A

Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa (r) – File photo

ECONOMYNEXT — Sri Lanka opposition leader Sajith Premadasa has proposed devolving power to the village level through a Grama Rajya system in addition to implementing the 13th amendment to the constitution.

Speaking at an event in Jaffna on on Wednesday June 12, Premadasa said all provinces will benefit from the 13th amendment.

“Whatever one’s ethnicity, religion, status or region, this country has citizens of equal level. They’re all Sri Lankan citizens.

“There is no division or grouping.  As we give you and every other province what you should be given through the 13th amendment, we must implement a Grama Rajya system,” Premadasa said, addressing a crowd of school children and other attendees.

Premadasa’s assurance of implementing the 13th amendment has already drawn some protest in the south.

A collective of civil society organisations held a protest outside the office of the leader of the opposition in Colombo on Thursday June 12.

Calling itself the ‘Coalition Against Partition of Sri Lanka’, the group carrying national flags marched up to the opposition leader’s office Thursday June 13 morning and demonstrated against the full implementation of the 13th amendment.

“We arrived here today to hand over a missive against devolving police powers, land powers and judicial powers. If Mr Premadasa is inside, come outside,” Jamuni Kamantha Thushara, Chairman of the Citizen’s Movement Against Fraud, Corruption, and Waste, was seen declaring at the site.

“First of all, tell us what we stand to achieve by dividing and giving away the north and east,” said another protestor, warning against bringing the 13th amendment “anywhere here (paththa palaathe)”.

A police officer at the scene the protestors that a secretary to the opposition leader was ready to accept their letter.

“In Kilonochchi, he says the 13th amendment will be implemented. The votes in the north are going to be decisive this election. To win those votes, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sajith and Anura Kumara Dissanayake all say they will implement the 13th. We will not allow this country to be divided into nine pieces,” said Thushara.

Ven Balangoda Kassapa Thero, who was arrested on June 06 during a protest against the new Electricity Act, was also seen at Thursday’s protest. The Buddhist monk requested for a debate with Premadasa on the matter of the 13th amendment. (Colombo/Jun12/2024)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka rupee closes flat at 303.85/95 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed broadly flat at 303.85/95 to the US dollar on Thursday, from 303.80/304.00 to the dollar the previous day, dealers said. Bond yields were down.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.00/30 percent, down from 10.20/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.10.2027 closed at 10.60/75 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 11.00/15 percent, down from 11.15/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 11.80/85 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 11.85/12.05 percent, down from 11.90/12.05 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.10.2032 closed stable at 11.95/12.15 percent. (Colombo/Jun13/2024)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka sells Rs295bn in 2027 to 2031 bonds

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has sold 295 billion rupees in 2027, 2029 and 2031 bonds, data from the state debt office showed.

The debt office sold an offered 60 billion rupees of 15 October 2027 at an average yield of 10.30 percent.

All offered 125 billion rupees of 15 September 2029 bonds were sold at 11.00 percent.

All 110 billion rupees offered of 01 December 2031 bonds were sold at 12.00 percent. (Colombo/May13/2024)

Continue Reading