Repatriation and Replacement of Lost Foreign Jobs: Handling Labour Migration in Sri Lanka during COVID-19
Sri Lanka, which has been sending workers abroad for employment for decades, is now faced with the formidable challenge of repatriating large numbers of migrant workers affected by COVID-19. This exercise calls for a continued coordination with the returnees, beyond the period of travel and quarantine. This blog dissects the nuances of labour migration, lost foreign employment opportunities, and repatriation brought about by the spread of COVID-19 and provides policy recommendations to successfully re-enter foreign labour markets.
Growing pressure on Sri Lanka’s scarce foreign exchange resources, due to the wide spread of COVID-19 across the globe, is now more real than ever before. To ease this pressure, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) has taken many measures to attract as well as retain more foreign exchange in Sri Lanka. Yet, it is uncertain if these efforts alone would be able to address Sri Lanka’s deepening foreign exchange concerns. This blog highlights the importance of remittances to Sri Lanka and outlines how to harness the potential of international remittances to complement other efforts already taken by the CBSL.
Despite its growing importance, women are highly underrepresented in Sri Lanka’s tourism sector, with females accounting for less than 10% of the workforce. Moreover, female enrollment in hotel schools in Sri Lanka is disturbingly low. These figures do not bode well in the context of a growing sector and the country’s already low female labour force participation rate. Within Sri Lanka’s hospitality sector, men are found to outnumber women in all occupational categories, except for Guest Relations and Front Office staff and Marketing functions. Thus, attracting more women into the sector will help to address the growing labour shortage, a crucial deterrent to the industry’s growth.
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.
Greater Social Protection for Sri Lankan Women through Better Jobs: Role of Technology and Innovation
Globally, 740 million women are employed in the informal economy, with limited access to social protection. In this context, this year the United Nations (UN) celebrated the International Women’s Day (IWD), under the theme ‘think equal, build smart, innovate for change’, focusing on how countries can achieve gender equality and empower women, particularly through social protection systems, public services, and sustainable infrastructure. Sunimalee Madurawala highlights the labour market conditions that hinder social protection coverage for women and examines how technology and innovation can help increase labour market access and opportunities for women.