Sri Lanka exporters call for migrant labour

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s exporters are asking for migrants to fill critical vacancies caused by a shortage of skilled labour and an exodus of graduate employees shifting to state-sector jobs.

"The shortage of skilled labour in specific categories in respect of some export sectors is a crucial issue faced by exporters," Sri Lanka’s National Chamber of Exporters said in a statement.

A recent survey conducted by the chamber showed the existence of 3,400 vacancies requiring skilled labour.

The shortage ‘hinders productivity’ and there is a ‘necessity to import specific skills from overseas on contract basis’, the chamber said, cautiously adding ‘if necessary’ given the misguided public perceptions about migrant labour.

The chamber also says the government’s election promise to provide job opportunities in the state sector to graduates has resulted in an exodus of employees.

"It is apparent that some of those who graduate out of state universities desire to be employed in the state sector for reasons of job security, and for other fringed benefits such as the eligibility for a government pension," the chamber said.

However, many of the graduates were leaving their jobs at export companies without due notice, disrupting productive operations. This was because they were required to commence work immediately at their new state-sector jobs.

"This is in the background of some exporters having incurred expenditure for local training, as well as overseas training in some instances," the chamber said.

The export body said the government’s recruitment policy was "unprofessional and detrimental to the private sector enterprises in the field of exports, and for the economy of the country".

The chamber wants employees to adhere to the standard 30 days’ notice, particularly in respect of critical job functions.





"There is a requirement for a clear national policy for the importation of specific skills in short supply, under strict regulations, as well as specific terms and conditions of contract, to fulfill the critical needs of export enterprises.

"This is considered a necessity, in the background of concerns as well as opposition from certain groups, to the movement of skilled personnel, under the Free Trade Agreements that are being negotiated," the chamber said. (COLOMBO, 20 June 2018)

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