Overseas Sri Lankans need to share their skills here | The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

The “Work In Sri Lanka” initiative will enable Sri Lankans to recognise the milestone reached in the country and realise that qualified personnel can easily contribute to the productive potential of the country, according to Ajith Nivard Cabral, Governor of the Central Bank. Speaking at the May 14th launch of the “Work in Sri Lanka” [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Overseas Sri Lankans need to share their skills here

Sri Lanka has only 2,000 fulltime researchers in R&D
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The “Work In Sri Lanka” initiative will enable Sri Lankans to recognise the milestone reached in the country and realise that qualified personnel can easily contribute to the productive potential of the country, according to Ajith Nivard Cabral, Governor of the Central Bank.

Speaking at the May 14th launch of the “Work in Sri Lanka” initiative in Colombo, he said, “After several years we have reached a milestone and there has been a huge paradigm shift in the mindset of Sri Lankan employees overseas and in the human capital environment of Sri Lanka.” Yet, he noted, although many Sri Lankan citizens residing abroad can contribute to the development drive few who venture abroad ever return.

He also said “new employment spaces must be created for Sri Lankan nationals residing abroad seeking to return to Sri Lanka”. This ‘Brain Gain’ should hopefully ‘allow fresh ideas to fertilise and new business ventures to be promoted’, he said.

Speaking at a panel discussion at the event, Prof. Ajith de Alwis, a leading local scientist, noted that there are human resources gaps in Sri Lanka although Sri Lankan talent exists.

“The war for talent is ongoing and we need to be at the cutting edge in attracting and retaining talent,” he said adding that, “Sri Lanka has only 2000 full time researchers in the field of Research and Development (R&D), well below the UNESCO average of 20,000 (for the country)” which severely impedes the skills development an productive potential of the country.

Dr. Ranee Jayamaha, Chairperson of HNB and presidential adviser on banking speaking at the event, said, Sri Lanka simply lacks the expertise in mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

She also noted “financial banking in Sri Lanka is minute compared to global and regional players and in order to compete on an international stage banks need to consolidate via M&A and joint ventures which in turn requires particular expertise”. Prof. H. Karunaratne, Dean of the Faculty of Management at the University of Colombo stated “we have to remember the examples of India and China and their success in re-attracting local talent that have ventured abroad.”

Strategies to attract foreign resident Sri Lankans back to the country were also discussed including micro-level initiatives, awareness campaigns as well as policy-level decisions. The need to identify the occupations in need of specific skills and quantify the shortage in said occupations was stressed as well as the strong necessity to provide entrepreneurial opportunities to Sri Lankans, which is greatly lacking in the economy. Panelists also voiced the need to provide monetary incentives and eliminate barriers to return such as high property taxes and excessive red tape especially in matters of immigration.

“Work In Sri Lanka” is a non-profit initiative aiming to plug the information gap in local employment opportunities and create an influx of Sri Lankan expatriate talent back to the country.




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