IPS recently hosted a discussion on the Sri Lankan perspectives of a World Bank report titled ‘More and Better Jobs in South Asia’ and brought to light many issues related to the Sri Lankan job market. Among the diverse range of views that surfaced, the debate on “what really is a better job?” was an interesting one that emerged. As several panelists argued, for Sri Lankans, “better jobs” may not always be determined by just the wages people earn. For the Sri Lankan worker other things clearly matter too.
Following a recent panel discussion on “More and Better Jobs” hosted by the IPS and the World Bank, we decided to seek the views of a wider community on this subject, by creating an innovative online platform on Google Moderator where people from across the country and beyond could join the discussion by posting their ideas and comments, as well as voting on others. We asked the online community – “How can we create more and better jobs in Sri Lanka?”, and received over three dozen valuable ideas. In this article we present some of them, covering several key issues.
In the second post in our new section ‘The Note Pad’, Kaushalya Atygalle, a Project Intern at IPS, writes: “if Sri Lanka is to overcome this challenge of finding a point where the aspirations of youth match up to the opportunities available to them, where youth are less averse to private sector jobs, where certain ‘types’ of jobs are not stigmatized by society, and where proper structural reforms to address these problems are introduced and function effectively, it is crucial that there is a shift in perceptions – a shift that takes place in all aspects of Sri Lankan society, and at all levels – from families right up to national decision makers.”
In a special feature article marking International Women’s Day today (8th March 2012), IPS Research Fellow, Nisha Arunatilake pens an op-ed article on the emerging challenges of employment conditions facing Sri Lanka’s female workers.
With the number of elderly dependents growing faster than the working age population, Sri Lanka will need to create fewer new jobs than it has historically done – just under 30,000 each year – for the next two decades. It is easier to absorb new entrants into jobs of lower productivity. However it will be more challenging, but critical, for Sri Lanka’s future success to meet its people’s rapidly rising aspirations by creating jobs of higher quality. This, then, is the crux of Sri Lanka’s employment challenge. Although the number of new jobs required to be created is less than before, their quality needs to be much better.