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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

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Opening new avenues for youth

According to Labour and Labour Relations Minister Gamini Lokuge the country's unemployment figure has dropped significantly during the past five years. He told Parliament responding to a question raised by Sajith Premadasa MP that the Government has implemented an employment creation and employment promotion program, a rural employment project to promote self employment and a micro-finance program islandwide to minimise unemployment.

The Government has allocated as much as Rs five billion under the present budget to direct youth towards various jobs. It has also arranged for graduate placement programs in banks and several other State institutions. All this is an indication of the emphasis laid towards employment generation. This is because unemployment more often than not has been the cause for rebellion as experienced in the past. It drives youth to frustration when they perceive that they are left out of the bounties of development. No amount of success in the development sphere would be worth it without a contended youth population. When President Jayewardene fought his 1977 election campaign his main slogan was 'employment first, employment second, employment third'. He took advantage of the rampant unemployment during the United Front Government, which was also the chief cause for the first uprising of the JVP in 1971.

According to the Workforce Survey Report 2010 the unemployment rate is 5.1 percent. This is leaving out the Northern Province. Unemployment was also one of the reasons for the Northern rebellion. It was neglected for long in terms of infrastructure development and was virtually starved of employment opportunities leading to frustration of educated youth who had no alternative but to join the separatist movement. No doubt unemployment became a volatile issue. Now with the development juggernaut rolling in the North these youth who are in the thick of these activities will be able to secure for them a better future.

The Government should also turn its attention to the issue of youth employability when devising its employment programs. Today many graduates passing out of Universities are unemployable due to the wrong educational policies that are out of step with the present day. This matter has been debated ad-nausem to warrant repetition. Suffice it to say that drastic policy reversal in the higher education sphere is a sine qua non in the country's present context requiring highly skilled personal in the technical and allied fields.

Today each year a large army of youth enter the employment market. They have to be found jobs and not any job at that. The youth of today want to be gainfully employed. It is upto the Government to provide avenues that would cater to their demands. Finding employment opportunities is the responsibility and obligation of any Government. But it is not the Government's job to find employment to the country's youth. All these years what we have seen under successive Governments is a patronage system of providing jobs on the basis of political affiliations. At each election the youth are promised jobs and once elected to power the Government's fail to redeem this pledge. Promising jobs should not be part and parcel of election promises that raise false expectations of the youth. What should be spelled out is the concrete steps that would be taken to address the unemployment issue.

There is no Government in the world which considers it as its prime obligation to secure jobs to its citizens. It can only create the necessary background and opportunities for this. It is up to the rest to make good these opportunities. Today these opportunities are being provided in large measure in Sri Lanka particularly in the country's post war rebuilding and reconstruction.

There are also plenty of opportunities in the informal sector as a spin off from gigantic projects. The Government, therefore, should equip and condition these youth to avail themselves of these employment opportunities. They should be guided with the proper skills training and education. That much is it is obliged to do. What the youth make out of these opportunities is entirely upto them. They cannot blame Governments perennially for not providing them with jobs.

It is also time to do away with the patronage system that has been the bane of the public sector leading to its collapse through inefficiency and lethargy. Recruitment should be done strictly on merit. There is an urgent need to put to an end this politicisation of the public sector if the Government is to achieve its set targets in its development drive.

Budget with a vision

People’s oriented economic strategy:

I had the patience to listen to the speeches of Members of the Opposition representing UNP, JVP and TNA. I regret very much the pathetic position that they are placed in.

Full Story

The Morning Inspection

Reflections on ‘microchip of our civilization’

A few days ago I wrote about Lionel Ranwala, the indefatigable archivist and exponent of traditional Sinhala music. A line at the end of the article prompted a response.

Full Story

Meeting Martin Wickremasinghe over Bava Tharanaya:

Sri Lanka’s renowned writer

Legendary author and sensational novelist Martin Wickremasinghe was living at Kirimandala Mawatha in Nawala. He was 80 then and the interview with me was being put off because he had an ailing tooth. Thousands of words and articles have been written about the writer who had been hailed among other platitudes as the Bard of Koggola - Koggola being the village he grew up and lived. Most of his writings were done there.

Full Story

 

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