CEB :Exodus of Engineers

CEB :Exodus of Engineers

Crisis in Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Electricity Board: Exodus of Engineers Threatens Stability

The state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) in Sri Lanka is facing a critical exodus of qualified engineers, a situation exacerbated by a currency collapse and the imposition of new progressive taxes on already diminished salaries. Union officials express grave concern over the alarming rate of engineer departures and the subsequent challenges in filling these crucial roles.

Dwindling Engineer Numbers

With a cadre of approximately 1,000 engineers, the CEB typically operated with around 900, but now faces a significant shortage as around 150 engineers have left for opportunities abroad since 2022. This departure has left some branches with a stark reduction in engineering staff, with numbers dropping to about 750, according to Dhanushka Parakramasinghe, President of the CEB Engineers Union.

Impact of Economic Factors

Sri Lanka’s economic woes, including a drastic depreciation of the rupee against the US dollar in 2022, have contributed to the engineers’ exodus. The currency’s collapse, resulting from misguided monetary policies and a subsequent float failure, has eroded salaries and led to a surge in emigration among professionals seeking better opportunities abroad.

Foreign Opportunities

Engineers departing from the CEB are finding employment prospects primarily in countries like Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, particularly in utilities and the mining sector. Despite efforts to entice them back, many engineers are opting to resign or pursue employment in these more stable economies.

Salary Disparity

The disparity between salaries at the CEB and those offered abroad is a significant factor driving the emigration trend. While entry-level engineers at the CEB earn a meager sum, often equivalent to just a few dollars a day, offers abroad range from $4,000 to $8,000 based on experience and job type. This vast difference underscores the financial incentive for engineers to seek employment elsewhere.

Challenges Ahead

The departure of experienced middle-level staff, coupled with the reluctance of young graduates to join under current conditions, poses a serious challenge to the CEB’s ability to maintain operational stability. Union officials warn of potential service disruptions if this trend continues, emphasizing the need for urgent measures to retain and attract engineering talent.

Economic Pressures

The high cost of living in Sri Lanka, exacerbated by soaring housing expenses and limited access to housing and transportation, further compounds the issue. With salaries failing to keep pace with inflation and living costs, engineers find it increasingly untenable to remain in the country, further driving the brain drain phenomenon.

The crisis facing the Ceylon Electricity Board underscores broader economic challenges facing Sri Lanka, including currency instability, inadequate salaries, and a diminishing talent pool. Urgent reforms are needed to address these issues and prevent further erosion of the country’s vital engineering workforce.

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