Traditionally, government jobs in Sri Lanka have been the most sought after in the public sector. Yet, there appears to be a change in the tide, with a newer generation having a different worldview compared to that of their parents.
Having said that with changing times and the ever-evolving needs of a young and ambitious generation, lots of other professions have come to the fore. These jobs are included within the domains of business, IT, insurance, financial services, and many more.
Before the Covid-19 Pandemic, Sri Lanka had a relatively stable employment landscape, but there was still much room for growth. A robust labour market can benefit all industries as long as it remains healthy and balanced just like education which has always flourished within its own social conditions.
There are several opportunities here; manufacturing being one example where small businesses thrive amongst amidst an expanding economy due not only access but also their ability to innovate in different markets via global trade and international connectivity.
The Focus Needs To Be On The Private Sector
Sri Lanka is a landlocked country, with the capital and principal cities situated at sea level. Within the limited amount of land that does exist, a huge amount is divided between the various districts and provinces.
Without proper education, a job or a right to work in any of the available niches was out of the question for many people. Therefore, job ads posted by the public service have had to be targeted towards younger new-age employees.
This confers upon the public sector the recognition of an enviable reputation in society. But, for those who are keen on future employment, the aspirations of the job market are quite high. Leveling of the playing field and economic reforms meet with enthusiasm. But the government is yet to address the role that government employees play in long term economic growth.
According to the Department of Census and Statistics, the Unemployment Rate in Sri Lanka decreased to 5.2% in the fourth quarter of 2020. The maximum rate of unemployment was 16.6% and minimum was 3.7%.
The specter of unemployment may be something that has always blighted this island nation, and it is probably because of the lack of opportunity and stability in long term career prospects that has led to an increase in the amount of citizens opting to migrate to greener pastures. This is sure to lead to a brain drain that will affect all industries across the country.
Many do contemplate the pursuit of long term careers, some even fantasise about it, but having been hit by the Covid-19 Pandemic many industries including the Leisure and Hospitality sectors have suffered greatly.
But what’s being done now with hiring in the public sector isn’t only about hiring graduates but all professionals whether it be lawyers, doctors, nurses, clerks, constables, teachers or engineers, etc.
One of the most keenly debated issues in the public sector was the clear need to create jobs for people in the construction sector. This is a sector that has been particularly hard hit over the past couple of years thanks largely to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Below, let’s look at the 3 main aspects that Sri Lanka needs to look into when considering its future, which at present appears bleak.
The Youth Need Jobs
Sweden rests quite high in international surveys than almost any other country for providing high quality jobs to its youth. Sri Lanka not so, with low jobs numbers in the region and very uncertain job/employment/pay outlooks in the coming years.
There are many questions that need to be asked: Can we expect to see a surge in employment and skills in the 15-24 and 25-29 age brackets? To what extent do males compete with females for coveted technical and entrepreneurial roles? It’s an undeniable fact that the younger generation is increasingly playing a much bigger role in global economies, as they seek a brighter economic future.
Even among the cognitively comparable over-25 demographic, the ones with a higher degree of formal education have topped the job charts for nearly a decade. Facts on the ground suggest college graduates make up over 55% of the workforce, a number expected to rise in the next few years, given current trends.
Those prospects who enter the workforce after obtaining those higher degrees will certainly play an important role pushing the development of popular media, technology and further entrepreneurship.
Sri Lanka’s tourism industry employed nearly 500,000 of its citizens in 2019. As a direct result of this major source of revenue, the island has been able to accumulate a substantial amount of foreign exchange reserves. Having created an export-led economy, tourism provides tangible jobs even in remote corners of the island nation.
The trend towards greater reliance on tourism appears well supported by independent news reports. Tourism was heavily relied upon to help to reduce poverty. This narrative has changed with the island’s battered economy limping towards some semblance of hope with the Covid-19 Pandemic hopefully reaching a conclusion in 2022.
While conventional industries have performed well, the export market was also battered. All of these factors have affected not only the private sector but also the public sector where government jobs are facing a great reduction thanks to the lack of investment and funds into the country.
Employment Lies In The IT Sector
With over 150,000 job losses where the youth has suffered vastly, Sri Lanka’s social systems are active only post-retirement. Yet instead of opting for low level jobs, and the comfort of government jobs, why is there no movement towards embracing new skills and finding employment in sectors that are self-sustainable.
We wrote about the importance of technology and the increase in IT jobs in the following blog post: Will Your Job Be Around In 5 Years? No industry has been protected from recent events except perhaps the IT sector. Sri Lanka’s traditional sectors of construction, tea, garments and tourism have all suffered.
With Sri Lanka embracing new and emerging technologies, the future would be brighter if there is an active move towards creating skilled workers in the field of IT and its domains of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Mobile App Development.
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