ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 38

Foreign jobs losing former lustre

By Nalaka Nonis

For the first time in 10 years Sri Lanka has recorded a drop last year in the number of those going for employment overseas. During last year the number of migrant workers dropped by 12 per cent as against the previous year.

The drop was recorded despite a separate Ministry titled Foreign Employment Promotion being created, in addition to the Labour Relations and Foreign Employment Ministry, to increase the number of foreign jobs.

Foreign Employment Bureau (FEB) statistics indicate that the number of migrant workers in 2006 had dropped by 29,820 compared to an increase of 16,254 recorded in 2005. A total of 230,963 Sri Lankans had gone abroad for employment in 2005 whereas the number in 2006 had come down to 201,143 which is exactly a reduction of 12.91 percent. Job seekers have been categorized as professional, middle-level, clerical and related, skilled and unskilled, and last year 100,326 Sri Lankan housemaids who were classified as unskilled have sought employment overseas.

Most of the migrant workers from Sri Lanka are employed in West Asian countries such as Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Jordan, Lebanon Doha and Qatar and also Asian countries such as South Korea and Malaysia. In comparison to 2005 there has also been a drop last year in the number of Sri Lankan migrant workers to South Korea. In 2005 3,190 people had gone to South Korea for employment while in 2006 the number had been only 2,154.

Foreign employment agency sources said Sri Lanka has not been able to capitalize on the South Korean job market despite being offered a considerable quota.

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