Business Times

Public call for National Employment Policy suggestions

Official says 5 % unemployment figure may be inaccurate

Public contributions have been called for a National Employment Policy in Sri Lanka. Discussions on this issue were recently held with a National Human Resources and Employment Policy for Sri Lanka currently being formulated under the guidance of Senior Minister for Human Resources, D.E.W. Gunasekera, according to the ILO office in Colombo.

Two workshops were recently held aimed providing an overarching and integrated policy framework towards promoting the goal of decent and productive employment for all. The International Labour Organization (ILO) is providing technical support to the government for developing the policy.
The ILO, in a press release said that, after cabinet approval, the process of formulating the policy commenced in June 2011 with the establishment of a National Steering Committee (NSC). The NSC comprises of a number of high level officials including Secretaries of more than 10 Ministries. There are 10 thematic working groups under the NSC which are developing the background material for the final policy document.

The process of formulating the document includes holding three regional consultation workshops with relevant stakeholders on the regional issues related to human resource development and employment. Two of these workshops were held in Kandy and Jaffna in September in Matara earlier this month. Initial findings of the thematic working groups were presented at these workshops. The diverse and insightful comments received from the participants will make this policy more practical and implementable, and also reflect regional realities, the statement said.

Minister Gunasekera noted at these workshops that it is essential to develop this policy especially because of the high incidence of unemployment among educated youth in Sri Lanka. He further stated that the youth unemployment issue could be very sensitive and potentially dangerous if the government did not give serious attention to the issue. He was pleased to note that so many Members of Parliament, senior government officials and other strategic partners including workers’ and employers’ organizations and professional institutions were closely involved in developing this important national policy.

Donglin Li, Country Director of the ILO for Sri Lanka and Maldives said the Government had made a significant improvement in the Sri Lankan economy with fast growth and development. He stated, however, it is still challenging for the government to ensure that quick economic growth translates to a better skilled labour force, decent jobs and quality of life for the people. He commended the Government for embarking upon the formulation of the National Human Resources and Employment Policy and committed the ILO’s full support for the development of the policy.

ewa, Secretary of the Secretariat for Senior Ministers, expressed his gratitude to the members of government, private sector, trade unions and professional organisations for participating in the 10 thematic working groups and the regional consultations. He said that though Sri Lanka’s unemployment had declined to less than 5%, he questioned whether this statistic reflected the true unemployment situation in the country. “There are large numbers of working poor who do not enjoy decent employment, as well as relatively high levels of youth and female unemployment. These issues cannot be resolved by one ministry, but rather through a well coordinated approach inclusive of a wide range of stakeholders and directed by an overarching policy on human resources and employment,” he said.

The ILO said the public is welcome to make comments/contributions to the policy by contacting the Secretariat for Senior Ministers or through the policy website which will be launched soon.

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