Overseas recruitment down by 50 percent

By Leon Berenger

Recruitment for employment overseas has dropped by almost half because of political turbulence in West Asian and other capitals.

According to Faizer Mackeen, Secretary of the Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies (ALFEA), the foreign employment industry is bracing for even leaner times as political turmoil continues in countries that are heavy recruiters of manpower from Asian countries.

Recruitment to Bahrain has been especially hard hit as anti-government protests continue. Mr. Mackeen told the Sunday Times that prospective job seekers hoping to go overseas should lower their expectations, as the rush for employment in West Asia had abated sharply in recent weeks.He added, however, that the job market for Doha and Kuwait remained relatively stable, despite a slight drop in fresh recruitment.

According to Mr. Mackeen, some 250,000 Sri Lankans take up employment overseas each year, and nearly 85 per cent of them head to West Asia. Sri Lanka receives about US$3.6 billion annually in foreign exchange earnings from the expatriate workforce, he said.

Meanwhile, recruitment for Malaysia has been put on hold because of bureaucratic red tape and other complications. The Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies is proceeding with legal action against the Malaysian authorities on several job-related matters.

Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLFEB) chairman Kingsley Ranawaka admitted there had been a drop in recruitment for foreign jobs, but did not believe it was as much as 50 per cent.

“There is some concern in the industry because of the prevailing situation in certain Middle Eastern countries, but we are not discouraging people from seeking employment in the region, although some caution should be exercised at all times,” Mr. Ranawaka said.

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