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.
Innovation and technology are rapidly transforming production in a variety of industries and reshaping occupation profiles. Some jobs are being made obsolete while there are new types of work emerging. Is Sri Lanka’s job market ready to face the challenges and leverage the opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Nisha Arunatilake and Chathurga Karunanayake explore.
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.