Much has been said about the prospects of Rural Youth in the new Sri Lanka! I will try and explore some of the prejudices and ideas that people have. I will use some real examples to try and illustrate some of the points, to make it easier to compehend.
Prasadi Nishanthi – She is about 28 having worked for 7 years at the Brandix at Giritale, and because her supervisor shouted at her, she stopped going to work, despite earning over Rs25,000 a month, for a 6 day work week, where the company provided bus picks her up from outside her front door in the mornings and drops her off in the evenings after the shift. She has bought a scooter for what purpose I know not!
She is pestering me to get her a job in the Anuradhapura Hospital, as a Hospital Attendent, the job that her qualification would entitle her to. A nurse position requires A levels which she does not have. It is perceived as a Govt. Job in the health department, and she could ask for a transfer nearer home later, and may improve her marriage prospects also, as garment workers have a low value! Despite the fact that her income maybe less as an attendent. It is considered easier, and she does not have to work so hard, and she will have more free time, and the working hours less.
Susantha – he is about 30 years old. He worked in the CDF or Civil Defence Force for a few years, before he had the opportunity to go to the Middle East for a few years. On his return, he asked me to see if he could get his job back. He has already paid over Rs200,000 to a broker who has offered to find him a Govt. job in some capacity. Depending on the job that is promised there is a price. He has not delivered yet, and I have a nasty feeling he has been taken for a ride. He is currently driving a tractor for a village businessman of questionable repute, and being paid on a daily basis. As you can see there is a type of person promising to find Govt. jobs for money. Do they pay politicians for these appointments?
Three boys in their twenties, have managed to get jobs in the Wildlife Dept, as rangers and are earning well, and appear to be the most settled. Two work away from home and come home on their days off. I was asked to find a job there for the BIL of one of them, as his current job in farming is NOT earning the required peace and comfort.
None of the youth (except the BIL) are involved in farming or an activity using village raw material to weave for lack of a marketplace and lack of a secure income. It appears they are all looking for security of income and permanence of job. The wives of all of the above males are living at home bringing up kids.
The pull to a govt. job is irresistible, and due to the fact their parents are farmers, and find eking out an existence not to their liking, the village will shortly have No One to plough the fields, unless it is mechanized and given to one team to do, as being the most efficient so the profit, or proceeds could be divided amongst the owners of the land in some equitable way.
All of the above in the village live in Ranchettes thanks to their parents inherited and grabbed land, so have home gardens that grow food, and all homes are built with bricks and motar and have good roofs and all have electricity. Way better than the homes I see in Biyagama in the suburbs of Colombo that just went under due to floods and where I work in a Printing Plant.