A growing mismatch between the supply of Sri Lankan workers seeking foreign employment and the demand for skilled workers in global job markets is a pressing concern. This mismatch, evident across all skill levels, is particularly acute for skilled occupations, where only 10% of job vacancies were filled in 2022, up from 5% in 2020 and 2021.
This disconnect stems from a lack of adequate skills training among Sri Lankan workers, particularly in areas that are in high demand overseas. As a result, only a fraction of the estimated 700,000 foreign job vacancies could be filled by Sri Lankan workers.
To address this issue, the national foreign employment policy emphasizes the importance of investing in skilled workforce development through vocational and professional training. This approach aims to transition Sri Lanka away from its reliance on remittances from low-skilled workers and position the country to compete in the global labour market.
For Sri Lanka’s workforce to become truly globally competitive, it is crucial to equip them with the technical competencies and higher-order cognitive skills that are essential in both domestic and foreign labour markets. This includes enhancing language proficiency, adapting to new technologies, and developing critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.
By addressing the skill gap and expanding the pool of skilled workers, Sri Lanka can maximize the potential of its migrant workforce, generate greater foreign exchange earnings, and contribute to the country’s economic development and resilience.