Business Times

Govt. drafts new employment framework

By Sunimalee Dias

The government plans to bring in changes in the current employment policy framework aimed at improving labour productivity and Sri Lanka’s competitiveness globally. As part of the government initiatives outlined in the Development Policy Framework for 2010-20 the objective is to effectively use local manpower to build and develop the naval and maritime, aviation, commercial, energy and knowledge hubs in the country, ILO, New Delhi, Decent Work Country Team Snr. Employment Specialist Dr. Piyasiri Wickramasekara said yesterday. He made this observation while outlining the Draft Policy Framework at the national seminar on the Formulation of the National Human Resources and Employment Policy, Strategy and Action Plan in Colombo.

He noted that the framework has no separate section on labour and employment but has set out several targets on employment. Government’s employment targets for 2016 are to reduce unemployment from the current 5.3% to 3.2% of the labour force; increase women’s participation from 34.3% to 40%; and reduce poverty rate from 7.6% to 4.2% of households.

The 2006 development framework employment strategy looks at the key areas of employment generation; increasing flexibility of labour laws and regulations; improving skills development and labour productivity; and increasing the employer-employee relations.

With at least 60% of the total workforce engaged in the informal sector, low labour productivity and high unemployment among youth, women and educated, labour market rigidities, low skilled migration overseas and low female labour participation are some of the key employment challenges Sri Lanka faces, Dr. Wickramasekara said.

Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga delivering the keynote address said that in spite of unemployment now at less than 5% there continues to be people without jobs in the country. In the future the five hubs to be developed will be assigned a ‘master’ each to identify the required individuals for jobs in the respective sectors, Mr. Weeratunga said.

ILO Director Sri Lanka and Maldives Donglin Li said Sri Lanka needs to ensure decent jobs and quality of life for the people by developing human resource capabilities and promotion of employment.
Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said that effective utilization of the full potential within the existing capacity in the country is needed. Workers need to be given necessary soft skills to demand a higher price for their labour, he said. Senior Minister handling Human Resources D.E.W. Gunasekara said all stakeholders in employment generation will be required to change in accordance with the formulation of the new policy.

With 500,000 qualifying at the O/L examination and 300,000 qualifying at the A/L examination only 22,000 are selected for university education, in this respect he said the rest of the reservoir of human resources needs to be put to productive use for the needs of the country to achieve its goals based on rapid growth.

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