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Sri Lanka Country Information

Sri Lanka Country Director:
Anjana Kulasekara
Director, CareerMe
srilanka@asiapacificcda.org





July 2020 Sri Lanka Country Report

National response to COVID-19

  • Closing of borders, import restrictions, enforcing island wide curfew and ordering to adopt working from home practices for both private and public sector.
  • Sri Lanka has been ranked 9th best country in the world for its successful immediate response on tackling the virus.
  • Curfew for over two months ‘halted’ almost all economic activities of Sri Lanka, impacting the labour market and all its participants in multiple ways.
  • Government closed schools from 12 March till end of school holidays. Amid growing concerns the reopening was pushed till 7 July 2020.

Government emergency support for business owners

  • Six month debt moratorium
  • Request for landlords to reduce rent payments
  • Working capital loans at low interest rates
  • Discounted utility bills

E- Survey on Impact of COVID -19 - By Department of Labour

  • Total of 2764 establishments responded to an e-Survey
  • 1084 establishments indicated they would be unable to pay salaries to their employees.
  • Some establishments chose to retain employees, with deducted salaries. SL Labour laws on employee termination are quite strict meaning unless an employee voluntarily resigns it is difficult to fire them.
  • Tourism sector has been hit hard. Tourism which was struggling to survive after Easter Sunday attack in 2019 has slumped further.

Migrant Workers

  • Remittances of migrant workers which contribute from 8 to 9% of GDP is drastically declining.
  • Significant number of migrant workers are expected to return due to non-availability of demand for their work in destination countries.
  • Influx of returning migrant employees means excess labour supply will be available in the country, which in a way will disadvantage the unskilled and less experienced job seekers.

  • Career guidance counsellors response to COVID-19

Career guidance personnel in public sector forced to utilize digital and online tools. Most government agencies which had previously been reluctant to use digital tools had no choice but to adapt in order to work from home.

  • Phone counselling was the most common form of delivery. It was the cheapest and most abundantly available option for both career guidance providers and seekers. Before COVID face to face interaction was the norm.
  • Social media was used widely to spread awareness on career services and events. Instead of the traditionally held regional career fairs more free, online webinars were conducted.
  • Learning during the pandemic has mostly occurred via online channels. Other distance learning channels such as television programs also had a tremendous reach in Sri Lanka during curfew period. Particularly since schools were closed and students island wide who did not have the luxury of e-learning tuned into TV programs to learn and educate themselves.
  • Face-to-face interaction was the norm before COVID-19
  • Career guidance events at schools before COVID-19
Face-to-face interaction was the norm before COVID-19 Career guidance events at schools before COVID-19


September Country report
Prepared by Anajana Kulasekara
  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) recently published a report “Future of Work in Sri Lanka” that recognises the lack of career counselling for graduates contributes to the high youth unemployment observed in Sri Lanka.

  • The report further states “Sri Lanka’s labour constraints are also a symptom of severe skill gaps. Despite high literacy (92%) and enrollment (97%) rates, the country’s educational and vocational systems face multiple challenges.”

  • CareerMe launched its mobile app for career guidance on July 2019 together with National Human Resource Development Council of Sri Lanka.

  • Sri Lanka’s president’s office has also initiated The 'Smart Sri Lanka' project which operates under the Sri Lanka Institute of Career Guidance with the aim of alleviating unemployment issues faced by the youth in the country.

  • National Education Commission which is the policy making body in all aspects of education in Sri Lanka is working on the reappraisal of the existing Career Guidance policy of Sri Lanka. 

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Career Guidance in Sri Lanka - CareerMe® by Anjana Kulasekara

Workforce development in Sri Lanka faces the changing realities of globalization and competitiveness. Demand for job-specific skills is growing in Sri Lanka as its economy has grown and the composition of its GDP has shifted from agriculture to higher value-added industry services. Although Sri Lankan government continues to invest much resources for providing free education there is a huge skills mismatch between the educated youth and needs of the labor market. Skills mismatch and wrong selection of education courses has resulted in loss of government investment in education.

Career Guidance (CG) is recognized as an important tool to address the issues of skills mismatch and the more appropriate selection of education courses by helping young people identify and prepare for their careers along with the skills needed for the new economy. Career identification and preparation are critical for Sri Lanka's youth to realize a successful future. Studies by various ministries and international organizations confirm that delivery of career guidance and soft skills are weak in Sri Lanka's public-school system. As the public-school system practically has no structured career guidance delivery program and relies on outdated labor market information, a vast majority of students progressing through the educational system are ultimately unable to receive any guidance and depart frustrated at being unable to achieve their educational goals and underprepared for entry into the labor market.

CareerMe® was founded on the belief in the power and potential of career guidance to develop and realize aspirations of young people for sustainable national growth. The organization was initiated with the intention of addressing issues in delivery of career guidance and operates in technical collaboration with Grow Careers Australia. CareerMe® recognizes technology plays a pivotal role in ensuring all youth island-wide have the opportunity to obtain, at minimum, key aspects of guidance prior to leaving school. To this extent CareerMe® has set up a free, web-based platform to provide nationwide, impartial career guidance services in all three national languages (Sinhala, Tamil and English) for youth to explore education and career options that 'FIT'. As part of CareerMe®'s career guidance process, youth are referred to the right education and training providers, financial service providers, as well as employers. Complemented with technology, CareerMe® also conducts trainings for school career guidance teachers/advisors so they receive the know-how to navigate through the complex web of information in the fast-changing world of work and can deliver effective, modern day career guidance to students.

As a pioneer, technology driven career guidance company in Sri Lanka, CareerMe® has been recognized by USAID-implemented project YouLead as their official career guidance partner and selected as the winner of the national digital social impact award, e-Swabhimani, under the Learning and Education category. CareerMe® is devoted to working with students, parents, teachers, career advisors, schools, training institutions, employers, donor community, the UN and international non-governmental organizations to ensure all Sri Lankan youth obtain vital career guidance before entering the world of work. We welcome opportunities to collaborate for the benefit and empowerment of Sri Lankan youth.

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