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DateLine Sunday, 30 September 2007

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Job opportunities for Lankan nurses in US

President Mahinda Rajapaksa was told by Los Angeles county officials on Friday that there is a large number of vacancies for nurses in California which Sri Lanka could exploit.

The Acting Chairperson of the Los Angeles County Board of Representatives Yvonne Burke told President Rajapaksa that there is a dearth of nurses in the California area. Qualified nurses were urgently required, she said.

It was revealed that almost 90 per cent of the nurses in the area were from the Philippines and India. Sri Lanka has a great potential in this sector if nurses who could meet stringent American standards were available, it was pointed out.

It was suggested that Sri Lankan nurses be trained to meet American standards and qualifications by an initial team of doctors and nurses from the USA. Suitably qualified nurses could then find employment in California and other US States.

The President called upon the Board to explore avenues to undertake such training of Lankan nurses graduating from nursing schools in Sri Lanka to suit California's Healthcare requirements.

Dr. Lakshman Makandura, a Sri Lankan doctor residing in Los Angeles told the Sunday Observer that only a handful of Lankan nurses were working in California. A minimum salary of a nurse is US$ 4,000 a month and a top nurse with several years of experience can earn as much as US$ 12,000, he said.

He said the Government should seriously consider the proposal by the County Board for a proper training program for Lankan nurses so that they could find employment here. At this meeting, President Rajapaksa and Chairperson Burke also discussed the economic and social contribution made to the California area by the large number of Sri Lankans domiciled here.

Soon afterwards, the President met Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the City Hall in downtown Los Angeles.

Mayor Villaraigosa extended a warm welcome to the President, saying it was an honour to receive a Sri Lankan Head of State in California for the first time. Los Angeles, being a multi-cultural city, values the contribution made by Sri Lankans, he said.

President Rajapaksa briefed the Mayor on current development initiatives in Sri Lanka and called upon the Mayor to set up links with an identified 'sister city' in Sri Lanka. The President later attended a luncheon meeting organised by the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.

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