In order to grow this economy, it is not just productivity increases that are necessary, we must encourage the population to begin work at a younger age, work for a longer period and increase the female labor participation in the workforce. In short we must have far more people in active productive work than we currently have.
What is the employment priority of the day?
We have 1 million vacancies with people unwilling to relocate do them
We have others who don’t have the skills to take some of the available jobs
We have under employment in rural areas, where both male and females are not gainfully employed and believe it is not economical to work on their land.
Why is it not economical? Some have lost money in agriculture, where even if they had a good harvest this year, due to surplus production around the Country in vegetables, they have not been able to find a market and lost money and so want another type of employment nearer home.
We have 1.5M three wheeler drivers and 500K of them are under 30 years of age, with these young men, having no other ambition, so they will not get a skill in the period humans gain a skill, that is under 30. So what should be the policy? The Govt. should forbid anyone under 30 from driving a three wheeler. They can have a motorbike, but NO three-wheeler hire or any other reason, as we can never be sure of their true intention.
There are so many vocational courses, and even for the hospitality industry, but there are no takers for the courses. The VTA is CRYING out for suitable applicants. There is no shortage of places anymore, contrary to popular perception.
The Western Province has most of the vacancies, but people from other areas DO NOT want to come because of the high cost of living and high food and boarding fees, as they have to live away from home.
There is no shortage of food in Sri Lanka so there is no hunger as a push factor to come to Colombo District to do any of the 500,000 jobs that are available. There is a huge shortage of drivers, housemaids and machine operators, to say nothing of the construction workers where the basic daily unskilled wage is Rs1,500. So why are people not coming to do these jobs? They don’t want to do heavy work. They want office jobs or government jobs.
Ask any farmer over 50 years. He has told his children not to farm, even driving a three-wheeler is better. There are few new entrants into farming. Soon there will be a severe labor shortage. I don’t know why but many women who helped in the fields readying for planting paddy or cutting the paddy now don’t do any agriculture, leaving it all to machines. That is fine for paddy, but at least they can grow vegetables. They may have decided it is not remunerative to do so, and would rather stay at home doing nothing than work in any agriculture!!!
What should be our objective?
1 To get more agricultural production in existing land
2 To provide good quality planting material so harvests can yield more
3 To increase the total number of people who are gainfully employed
4 To permit those who wish to engage in farming, the means to do so
5 To move people to where the jobs are as it is impossible now to locate employment where people live
6 To improve Sri Lanka’s labor productivity in all sectors, most especially in agriculture, but also industrial productivity in export industries
7 To provide the skills needed for vacancies in employment especially those in high demand, such as the hospitality trade
What then should be the policies?
1 Immediately introduce labor saving devices in agriculture, that make farming attractive to the young and at least giving them an income of Rs50,000 a month. This does not happen using old technology.
2 Coax with financial incentives, for those who go into training for skills in high demand, hospitality, mason, electrician, baas.
3 Build low cost housing units for families in areas of high vacancies, like BOI Zones that are desperate for workers.
4 Determine methods of getting home based women to work in the rural areas by providing work of planting trees or growing some crops with guaranteed buy backs. As was done with the tobacco cultivation which the government has banned. (we destroy, we don’t introduce new means of income! Bizarre)
5 Change land laws to ensure ownership of all land, so that it can be rented out without the possibility of losing it to the tenant. This will release a lot of land for cultivation to those farmers or potential farmers who show aptitude which who have no access to land.
6 Use the media wisely, to encourage, exhort, and show the possible avenues to improve quality of life. There has to be a path to higher earnings, for career development.
7 Encourage education sector, schools to empower students, before they leave, on all income earning opportunities in the commercial world.
8 Most of all change the parent's mindset that waiting for a government job, using the influence of a politician is treason, when so many vacancies exist in the private sector. The line of applications despite all of the above for government positions is unstoppable.