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Home EFC News Workforce requires re-engineering in skills post-COVID-19, says President
Workforce requires re-engineering in skills post-COVID-19, says President PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 09 July 2020 11:08
  •  Assures to empower those who lost employment during this pandemic
  • Says special attention paid to safeguard workforce from shockwave created by COVID-19 impact on global economy
  • Notes repatriated fraction will have the choice to join local labour force without returning to original countries of employment
  • Sees COVID-19 as an opportunity for countries to realign their ‘worlds of work’, emerge safer and stronger
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday said the skills sector in Sri Lanka required a rethinking and re-engineering to accommodate the new normal, post-COVID-19, while assuring to empower those who lost employment during this pandemic.

He made these remarks while addressing the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Global Summit on ‘COVID-19 and the world of work – Building a Better Future of Work’.

The summit hosted by the ILO commenced on 1 July and will conclude today. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, and several world leaders addressed the largest-ever online gathering of workers, employers, and governments.  President Rajapaksa pointed out that as a developing economy with a sensitivity to external determinants, Sri Lanka paid particular attention to safeguarding its workforce from the shockwave that was created by the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy.

Noting that Sri Lanka has an active labour force of 8.6 million, out of which the private sector employs nearly 3.5 million, he said that the social security measures that were introduced during the COVID-19 outbreak covered all sectors of the workforce.

“The skills sector of Sri Lanka requires re-thinking and re-engineering in order to accommodate the new normal of the post-COVID period. ‘Reskilling’ and ‘up-skilling’ of employees will be addressed in our action plan to empower those who lost employment during this crisis,” the President said.

“COVID-19 posed us with perhaps the greatest human crisis in the modern period. As a result, the ‘world of work’ is undergoing a massive reorganisation in the post COVID-19 period in developed as well as developing countries alike,” he added.

The President also highlighted that Sri Lanka has a considerable workforce who are employed outside the country. “Even during the period where restrictions for air travel were imposed, we have repatriated nearly 15,000 Sri Lankans from destinations abroad so far. Although this made a considerable change to our overall employment profile, our aim was to secure the lives of our workforce,” he stressed.

He said the repatriated fraction of the labour force will now have the choice to join the local labour force without returning to their original countries of employment. “This, in turn, will shape the ‘new normal’ of our ‘world of work’,” he pointed out.

President Rajapaksa also appreciated the efforts that all countries have taken for smooth sailings of their ‘world of work’ at this sensitive period when all are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I believe that the COVID-19 situation globally has not reached an equilibrium where countries can start having long-term plans. However, it has given ample opportunities for creating a new normal in the short-term and consolidating it in the medium term. Sri Lanka views this as a stepping stone towards re-shaping her ‘world of work’ to suit the new normal in the post-COVID-19 period. I sincerely hope and wish that this opportunity will serve as a means for all countries to re-align their ‘world of work’ accordingly and emerge safer and stronger after this global calamity,” he added.

Pointing out that Sri Lanka has pledged to eliminate hazardous child labour by 2022, he said abiding by this commitment, the Labour Department has continued to conduct investigations on complaints received even during the lockdown period following the COVID-19 outbreak.

He said providing an umbrella cover to all activities related to the labour force is the Tripartite Task Force chaired by Sri Lanka’s Labour Minister. “This task force acts as a point of convergence where employment security, wage reconsideration, and all related issues are discussed between representatives of employers, employees and the labour officials,” he added.

Participants shared insights on how they could address the economic and social impact of the pandemic, which has laid bare the extreme vulnerability of millions of workers and enterprises.

The global summit examines a range of issues, including how to promote full and productive employment in this new environment, what needs to be done to address the massive vulnerabilities in the world of work made evident by the pandemic, which workers require particular support and attention, how to position the reduction and elimination of poverty as central objectives of the recovery process, and how the international community can come together with a real common purpose and rededicate itself to the delivery of the UN’s 2030 Agenda.


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Last Updated on Thursday, 09 July 2020 11:46

The EMPFED -Third Issue - June 2020