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Thursday, January 03, 2013 - 05.40 GMT

SL to reduce women migrant workers


The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) aims to reduce women migrating overseas to work as domestic aides by 80 to 90 percent by 2020.

“We do not approve of women going overseas to work as domestic aides. However, we cannot put a complete end to it immediately. Therefore, we have launched a number of programs to upgrade their skills and find better employment opportunities for them in specialized vocations,” SLBFE Chairman Amal Senalankadikara told Arab News yesterday from Colombo.

According to SLBFE Chairman, Sri Lanka’s migrant labor force has been dominated by female domestic aides (especially to the Middle East), for many years. Although this category of workers have earned billions of rupees as foreign revenue, the chairman pointed out that labor experts believe their migration abroad has caused social problems.

“We have witnessed several broken homes, since mothers work abroad,” he said, adding that this causes several social and cultural problems in society.

A few years ago housemaids constituted around 80 percent of the total Sri Lankan migrant worker population. However, according to the latest figures this has dropped to less than 40 percent.

According to Senalankadikara, many initiatives have been proposed for the new year, including training prospective migrant workers in specialized vocations with the intention of increasing the percentage of skilled workers while discouraging unskilled workers from going abroad.

Authorities have made National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) level 3, compulsory for Sri Lankans seeking skilled jobs abroad. Moreover, they have introduced tailor-made training courses according to the nature of jobs, countries and the requirements of the employers.

The SLBFE is also planning to improve foreign language proficiency for overseas job seekers. They are in the process of recruiting teachers to teach languages, including foreign professionals.

“Some of the employment avenues the SLBFE is currently looking to promote among Lankan females instead of the housemaid profession are employment in the hospitality, health, and sales industries,” Senalankadikara said. The SLBFE recently signed an agreement with an international company to establish an accredited nurses training school and a hospital to train health sector workers.

Meanwhile, migrant worker remittances at the end of 2012 are expected to surpass an unprecedented $ 6 billion. The SLBFE is aiming for $ 10 billion by 2020, with more emphasis on skilled categories.

In the first eight months of this year, Sri Lanka’s migrant workers remitted $ 3.9 billion, which is an increase of 15.2 percent compared to the same period in 2011. With nearly 1.7 million Sri Lankans working abroad, their total remittances amounted to $ 5.14 billion in 2011. This is equivalent to 8.2 percent of Sri Lanka’s GDP, 25 percent of the government’s total revenue and 35 percent of total foreign exchange earnings. Migrant workers constitute 17 percent of the working population.






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Last modified: January 03, 2013.

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