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Wednesday, 2 January 2013

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Govt. to apply curbs on housemaid jobs

The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE)aims to reduce females migrating for overseas jobs as domestic aides by 80-90 per cent by 2020. “We do not approve females going for overseas work as domestic aides. However, we cannot put a full stop to it immediately. Therefore, we have launched a number of programmes to upgrade their skills and find more gainful employment in specialized vocations,” SLBFE chairman Amal Senalankadikara said.

For many years now, Sri Lanka’s migrant labour force has been dominated by female house maids(especially to Middle East). Although this category of workers have earned billions of rupees as foreign revenue, experts believe their migration abroad has caused social problems .

In 2011 out of 262,960 Sri Lankan workers who went abroad 107,816 were housemaids. In 2012 up to October out of 187,908 who went abroad 86,220 have gone for employment as domestic aides.

A few years back house maids constituted around 80 percent of the total Sri Lankan migrant worker population. However, according to latest figures this has dropped to less than 40 percent. Authorities efforts to send more skilled workers, especially males is slowly gathering momentum. In 2011 for the first time males(135,810) outnumbered females(127,090) and in 2012 too the trend has continued with the number of male migrant workers reaching 95,287 as at October and females 92,621.

According to Senalankadikara many initiatives have been mooted in the new year to train prospective migrant workers in specialized vocations with the intention of increasing the percentage of skilled workers whilst discouraging non-skilled workers going abroad. Authorities in their bid to discourage non-skilled categories have made National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) level 3 compulsory for Sri Lankans seeking skilled jobs abroad. Also they are adopting a job specific, country specific, company specific strategy in training workers according to specific requirements.

The SLBFE is also planning to improve foreign language proficiency for overseas job seekers. They are in the process of recruiting teachers to teach languages including foreign professionals. “Some of the employment avenues the SLBFE is currently looking to promote among Lankan females instead of the house maid profession are employment in the hospitality industry, health, sales, house keeping, and industries,” Senalankadikara said. The SLBFE recently signed an agreement with an international company to establish an accredited nurses training school and a hospital to train health sector workers.

Meanwhile migrant worker remittances at the end of 2012 is expected to surpass an unprecedented US $6 billion. The SLBFE targets US $10 billion by 2020 with more emphasis on skilled categories. In the first eight months of this year, Sri Lanka’s migrant workers remitted US $ 3.9 billion which is an increase of 15.2 percent compared to the same period in 2011. With nearly 1.7 million Sri Lankans working abroad, their total remittances amounted to US $5.14 billion in 2011. This is equivalent to 8.2 percent of Sri Lanka’s GDP, 25 percent of total government revenue and 35 percent of total foreign exchange earnings. Migrant workers constitute 17 percent of the working population.

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