Sri Lanka’s labour market has been riddled with persistent high informality, an unchanging low female labour force participation, and low quality of available jobs. Enhancing exports can be a solution to these intractable problems, according to the findings of the Exports to Jobs – Boosting the Gains from Trade in South Asia report, which shows that boosting exports improves domestic labour markets by creating jobs, increasing wages, and reducing informality.
With the recent signing of the Sri Lanka – Singapore Free Trade Agreement (SLSFTA), as well as the Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India that is being negotiated, there has been wide public debate on the issue of allowing free movement of people across borders. Bilesha Weeraratne argues that the ability to retain skilled foreign workers, and continue to attract high-skilled migrant workers is contingent upon the development of policies that will cater to the needs of inbound migrant workers while leveraging the potential they hold to foster economic growth and development in the country.
Improving Sri Lanka’s female labour force participation has been an issue troubling policymakers in the recent past. Most solutions to this problem are concerned with helping women to balance work-life activities. This blog shows that low female labour force participation is more an issue for low skilled females. The labour force participation of higher skilled females is on par with that of males. As such, this blog argues that better education and better jobs will also encourage more females to enter the workforce.
Human capital is an essential resource in achieving the Sri Lankan Government’s envisaged development goals and transforming the country into a modern manufacturing economy. High quality human resources with expertise in science and technology and a skilled labour force are also necessary to compete globally. However, Sri Lanka is facing a major challenge in meeting these emerging skill requirements. In this context, this article by Priyanka Jayawardena explores some policy recommendations to bridge the widening skill gap.