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BOI offers incentives for education sector

The BOI conducted a seminar for investors in the education sector with the objective of advising them on the range of tax incentives and benefits available. During the welcome speech, Prof. Lakshman R. Watawala, Chairman/Director General said that even though Sri Lanka boasts of a 92% literacy rate, to keep up with the rapidly developing world, it is crucial that the country has a solid base of skilled labour. Since the State is able to provide university education to merely 10% of the students who qualify to enter university due to the lack of resources, the private sector plays a key role in bridging the gap.

The Chairman made a presentation on 'Investment Opportunities in the Education Sector' where he identified Information Technology/BPOs, vocational and skills development, professional and business sectors, tourism, apparel, healthcare and agriculture/agro-industry as key sectors which have emerged as lead industries and where there is a great need for training.

Prof. Watawala said that although Sri Lanka has a talented pool of young people who are able to grasp and learn new skills easily, the training facilities available in the country need to be upgraded. Therefore to promote these lead sectors for investment, the chairman affirmed that the BOI is providing incentives for training in these sectors.

Managing Director - WNS Sri Lanka Dushan Soza, said that language skills, analytical skills, computer proficiency, customer service orientation and behavioural skills are the basic skill landscape required by most BPO companies. He said that WNS, with over 300 employees have an in-house training system and new recruits are given training for both professional as well as soft skills.

He stressed the need for training institutes to train students on the type of training/skills which will make them competitive and ensure they have secure positions in the job market. He also highlighted the importance of re-designing the course curriculum for English whereby employers will be able to recognise courses offered by institutes as those that fulfill the requirements of the employers.

Vice President Human Resources, HSBC Electronic Data Processing Lanka (Pvt) Limited (HDPL) Gaurav Ahluwalia spoke on "The Importance of English Education - ITES/BPO Perspective" where he outlined features of current industry trends, drivers for growth, issues and challenges and strategies to cope with Ahluwalia said that the global outsourcing industry is expected to grow by 6.7% CAGR and therefore with the high literacy rate and skilled labour, there is immense potential for the industry in Sri Lanka.

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