Plenty of factory jobs, no takers

BOI chairman says ‘no response from MPs’ :

By Chandani Jayatilleke

Young Sri Lankans shun taking skilled and non-skilled jobs with a monthly pay of around Rs. 30,000-35,000 in factories struggling to fill vacancies, but appear to prefer to work as trishow drivers instead.

The jobs offered by Board of Investment (BOI) companies with several opportunities for further training and personal growth and a steady income are ignored by the youth as well as the politicians.

Chairman, Board of Investment, Upul Jayasuriya’s call to recommend youth for 25,000 jobs at BOI companies, from the 225 legislators has not met with the desired response.

“I have written to each and every MP personally requesting them to nominate suitable young people from their electorates for these jobs several months ago. But none has responded so far,” Jayasuriya told the media last week.

There are 12 trade zones under the BOI at present. About 15% of the BOI companies - that is 300 – are within these trade zones while the rest of the companies are in outside the trade zones.

The vacancies at BOI companies have been published through the media and spoken about in many a forum. “Yet the response is insignificant,” he said.

“This is a serious issue. We need all types of labour, from skilled to semi-skilled in 15 different job categories. “Our youth are not geared to take up jobs as technicians, welders, machine operators and construction workers.

They want convenient ways such as hiring three-wheelers or finding government jobs even if it is not a productive way to contribute to the economy,” he said. Statistics show that a million three wheelers are on the roads at present.

A senior economic analyst said the youth mindset should be changed and youth should be trained from their school-level education to get into the labour force.

“We need to impart skills training and teach them how to work and earn in a factory atmosphere.

The entire world needs lakhs of welders, pipe fitters and construction workers

If our youth are to find foreign employment they should have some basic training. Three-wheelers are not the ultimate profession for them,” he said.

“If you take mega projects such as Megapolis which hopes to create several lakhs of jobs, how are we going to find people?,” he queried.

According to the Statistics Department, the number of unemployed people is estimated at 349,686 during the first quarter of this year. The unemployment rate for the first quarter this year was 4.2 percent.

The overall unemployment rate for females was 6.1 percent and for males 3.1 percent.

The youth unemployment rate (15–24 years) in the first quarter this year was 21.5 percent - the highest unemployment rate among all age groups. Unemployment rates for males and females are 19.0 and 25.9.

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