IOM Sri Lanka Chief of Mission Mohammed Abdi Ker handing over the new course material to Honourable Minister Dr Keheliya Rambukwella.
IOM is backing efforts by the Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare (MFEPW) to improve housekeeper/domestic help and caregiver training courses to upgrade the skills of migrant workers and enhance their earning potential abroad.
The majority of Sri Lankan migrant workers are women, many of whom work as housemaids, primarily in the Arabian Gulf. The remittances that they send home are critical to Sri Lanka’s economy and in 2008 reached an estimated US $2.9 billion.
“Housekeeping and care-giving are two of the ten fastest growing occupations worldwide and there is growing demand for people with these skills in rich countries. The government recognizes that comprehensive pre-departure training will increase demand for Sri Lankan workers in this field,” says IOM Sri Lanka’s Chief of Mission Mohammed Abdi Ker.
The training, which IOM has helped the MFEPW to develop following an extensive consultative process with government and the private sector, includes the development of job profiles, the entry requirements for courses, vocational training standards, curriculum and training of trainer modules.
“The enhanced training will not only send better prepared migrants. Their newly acquired knowledge will also improve their understanding of their rights and protect them from abuses,” says Shantha Kulasekera, IOM Sri Lanka’s Head of Migration Management.
The MFEPW plans to streamline the pre-departure training of migrant workers by asking all trainers to adopt the new standards and curriculum. It also intends to introduce a credible testing and evaluation system to ensure that any worker leaving Sri Lanka to work in the two sectors has successfully completed the relevant training and received a certificate.
“The contribution and efforts of IOM Sri Lanka in improving the vocational skills of migrants have been timely and is a significant step forward in the right direction for the betterment of our migrant workers,” says Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella, Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare.
In addition to the two training courses, IOM has also helped to develop 25 Sri Lankan Worker Profiles for occupations in high demand abroad. The profiles are useful tools for the promotion of Sri Lankan workers abroad, outlining the knowledge, skills and attitudes expected in occupations in the hospitality, construction and janitorial sectors.
In addition to improving pre-departure training, IOM also helps the government in assessing labour migration challenges and opportunities in Sri Lanka, and conducts labour market research on opportunities for skilled and semi-skilled Sri Lankans abroad.