ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 13
Financial Times  

Brain drain saga - Letter

Dinesh Weerakkody in recent comments on brain drain statements made by Naoka Isshii, World Bank Country Head in Sri Lanka, urged her to get her facts right before painting a rosy picture to please the ego’s of irresponsible politicians in Sri Lanka.

The facts as stated by Weerakkody are startling and if this is actually happening in this country and I believe that we are getting pushed backed economically by the day. The present brain drain has the potential of making Sri Lanka a failed state. Most of the qualified and experienced people have begun to leave the country and if we continue to see abductions and poor governance. The only people who can't get out due to poor language skills will finally remain in this country.

Today this is quite evident by the long queues in front of foreign embassies that have skilled migration programmes. In fact from my batch of Management Accountants, most of them are already living in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Sadly the balance too is attempting to leave.

The mobility of skilled migration is quite evident today. For example for our IT company we have many times tried to select a few top engineers to work for us. So far our recruitment track record has been very poor.

The problem is that most of the candidates don't come close to what we are looking for. The few good candidates around demand a huge premium. As a result we end up pushing salary scales to unbelievable levels. Then in order to retain the good people we have in the organization we have to offer them high salaries, top perks and good training. On the long term this trend could have an impact on our international competitiveness.

Also the World Bank country head doesn’t realise that most of our graduates in the country are only qualified to work as government officers where productivity levels are low and there are poor work ethics.

No private sector company today will employ local graduates in a hurry because of this situation. So the World Bank would do well to put their money into more productive HRD efforts in consultation with the private sector so that Sri Lanka's so called educated labour force is well positioned to benefit from the globalization that is sweeping India and China. If not the World Bank country head will continue to suffer with foot and mouth disease. Finally for a change as Weerakkody says the government and the private sector also need to be more imaginative about attracting, developing and retaining our best talent in Sri Lanka and abroad.

Perhaps the World Bank can at least help us to do that!

By Darshana de Silva, Colombo


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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.