Insights from Dr Bilesha Weeraratne on Current Trends in Migration and the Skilled Worker Migration

07 March 2023

Labour migration and worker remittances have been essential to the Sri Lankan economy for a long time, especially during the ongoing crises. However, according to IPS Research Fellow Dr Bilesha Weeraratne, assuming increased migration leads to higher inward remittances may not be entirely accurate. Participating at the panel discussion on ‘‘Migration Trends and Flight of Human Capital’ organised by the Sunday Times Business Club, Dr Weeraratne explained that while many Sri Lankans migrate for employment and educational opportunities, many do so without a job lined up abroad.

Discussing the recent migration trends in Sri Lanka, Dr Weeraratne noted that temporary migration is common among lower-skilled workers who leave their families behind, while better-educated and skilled migrants tend to bring their families along. She also discussed the impact of recent policy measures aimed at improving migrant remittances in Sri Lanka. These measures include relaxing the Family Background Report policy, introducing a five-year no-pay leave policy for state employees to seek foreign employment, and expanding skills groups and destinations.

Dr Weeraratne emphasised the need for policymakers to rethink their approach to attracting remittances from both permanent and temporary migrants while keeping them connected to Sri Lanka. It is also essential to consider how outmigration will impact Sri Lanka’s future economic growth.