09/20/2023, 12.30
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Wickremesinghe: industrialized countries compensate for 'brain drain'

by Arundathie Abeysinghe

The appeal was made by the Sri Lankan president speaking of doctors leaving the country. Qualified professionals are in high demand and leave the island nation drained of human resources. About twice as many lecturers would be needed in the universities as currently remain.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - The president of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, is asking economically advanced countries to compensate the countries of the global South for the recruitment of qualified professionals, addressing in particular those who employ Sri Lankan doctors.

The observations from Sri Lanka were made on September 15 at the G77, the forum of non-aligned countries supported by China held in Havana with 134 countries as guests, on the eve of the United Nations General Assembly underway in New York.

According to Wickremesinghe, due to the brain drain, less industrialized countries have lost "educated manpower" with consequent economic difficulties, indicating human capital as a key element for the development of any country. The president of the island nation then cited the success of India, Japan, China and South Korea which have developed by favoring domestic labor.

In Sri Lanka, several hospitals find themselves without adequately qualified transfusion doctors, surgeons, anesthetists and pediatric cardiologists, creating a significant gap in the provision of essential medical services. But beyond medical professionals, the South Asian country is facing a shortage of skilled professionals in many sectors including IT, engineering, and apparel.

Engineers Mahesh Attnayaka, Chaminda Senanayaka and Gayatri Wijesekera employed in a tech company based in Colombo told AsiaNews that due to the economic crisis and political instability, a large number of IT professionals have migrated abroad: "In our We had 1,000 employees in the company, but 760 of us remained.

Those who left went to Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada. While they have a high standard of living, we are burdened with work and taxes and face a high cost of living. We are worried about our children's education and their future. Within the next two months, more than 100 employees working in different segments of our company will go abroad."

According to university professors Senarath Mannapperuma and Kithsiri Dissanayaka, “Sri Lankan youth see migration as an opportunity for successful job prospects. The migratory mentality is widespread among citizens. as demonstrated by the long queues in front of the passport office. The attitude is especially common among educated young people from both urban and rural contexts, who are aged between 25 and 40."

“In the past - the experts continue - many young Sri Lankans returned home to discover that there were no jobs available for them. So their only option was to leave the country and thus obtain well-paid positions which then led to the request for permanent residency, draining the country's human resources."

"At the moment university lessons are provided with a minimum capacity of academics. Against a need for 12,992 university professors, we only have 6,548. According to data from the University Grants Commission, around 2 thousand professors have migrated in the last 18 months alone."

Around 45% of skilled professionals aim to relocate permanently to developed countries. According to scholars Manoj Samarathunga and Rasanjalie Kularathne “this is a situation that reflects an important socio-economic problem of a large number of middle class people. While it may seem like an insignificant threat, it is actually an important issue that we should address immediately as a nation.”

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