Saturday, July 30, 2016

Child Care – Critical need of the hour to fill the skills and labor shortage

Make no bones about it, Sri Lanka has a huge skill shortage, and there are particularly skilled women who have decided to start a family and are staying at home, and who do not have the means to pay for carers in order that they may return to work.

I am currently trying to help a highly skilled mental health counselor of one of our voluntary social service programs to be able to balance her life to both be able to take care of her new born, while at the same time, be able to work in her field, where there is a huge skill shortage, but the wage rate employers are prepared to pay does not come up to the viability of using child care. This is therefore a real problem that the Govt. is supposed to be addressing, and I hope they are able to do so.

The problem with this balance, is that unless there is a state subsidy or an employer subsidy, the viability is a question. A good trained child care service is costly as it involves trained individuals. The employee is NOT able to pay the true cost, when their earnings are insufficient. So how does society get the skills to balance both sides.

In the current situation, she stays home to look after baby, and the Country loses a productive person. If she goes to work, the Country’s GDP doubles with her working and her salary, and the child care worker and her salary both adding to the economy, where neither has a place now. We can focus on the problem when we think of economic cost and benefit here. If she was NOT a skilled person with a job that is in demand then her need to join the labor force is not as great. However her catch 22 problem is that as of now her skills do not get the needed value, as mental health counseling is accepted as highly in demand, but unless remuneration is given to compensate this level of skill adequately there is no contract. Conversely, to have a trained child care worker is also a cost, and the compensation is therefore a factor, and one who is not trained is then of little value to the parent, who has to substitute oneself to that of the carer.

I have not mentioned it here, but we have some skilled staff having to take time off to take care of aged parents, and that too is a cost to society, that we have to increasingly be aware of and take steps to set up elderly care centers in villages. 

No comments: