x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Sri Lankans bid to bring more skill to the UAE

Sixty per cent of Sri Lankans in UAE currently work as housemaids.

ABU DHABI // Sri Lankan officials have visited the UAE in an effort to persuade employers to hire their countrymen.

On Thursday, the mission organised a seminar for recruitment agencies. Senaka Abeygoonasekera, chairman of the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Agency, told the meeting that his country was making great efforts to train its people for skilled jobs in the Middle East, setting up 50 vocational training centres.

Of the UAE's 300,000 Sri Lankans, more than 60 per cent are housemaids, 20 per cent skilled workers and fewer than 5 per cent professional, according to the mission.

M E G Samaraweera, first secretary of labour affairs at the embassy, said the aim was to change that balance, with emphasis on the hospitality sector and technical fields. He said "a large chunk" of workers would have been trained by the end of this year.

Sri Lanka is also considering banning its citizens from working overseas as housemaids. However, he said the number of complaints from maids working in the UAE was small.