Wednesday, 01 June 2016

Delegates from the Colombo Process countries met for the Thematic Area Working Group Meetings on ‘Skills and Qualification Recognition’ and ‘Promoting Ethical Recruitment’ and the Regional Workshop on Labour Market Research in Colombo.

Colombo, Sri Lanka – The first meetings of the Thematic Area Working Groups (TAWG) of the Colombo Process (CP) on ‘Skills and Qualification Recognition’ and ‘Promoting Ethical Recruitment’ were held on 31 May 2016 in Colombo, Sri Lanka with the participation of delegates from the CP Member States (CPMS). The TAWG meetings were followed by the Regional Workshop on Labour Market Research on 1 June 2016.

These TAWGs were first of the five TAWGs which are planned to be activated in support of the current CP thematic priorities. The primary objectives of the inaugural meetings were to discuss and agree on goals and key tasks of the respective TAWGs as well as to discuss possible areas of joint and parallel action programmes among the CPMS and with countries of destination (CODs).

The TAWG on ‘Skills and Qualification Recognition’ chaired by Sri Lanka identified the importance of increasing the number of skilled workers departing for overseas employment, the need for promoting mutual recognition of qualification frameworks between countries of origin (COOs) and CODs, and promoting higher wages for skilled workers as the priority issues to be pursued as the TAWG goals.

The TAWG on ‘Promoting Ethical Recruitment’ chaired by Bangladesh, highlighted priority issues such as transforming the recruitment industry into an employer-pay model, removing information asymmetry to enable migrant workers to acquire the necessary knowledge for decent and safe migration, and developing policies and regulations to encompass the informal actors as the goals to be pursued collectively by the TAWG.

‘Labour Market Research’ which was focused in the Regional Workshop is another key thematic priority of the CP. The Workshop was convened to provide an avenue for the delegates from CPMS to stock take the existing initiatives in CPMS and discuss joint activities in order to make collective advancement in this thematic area.

The workshop was inaugurated by welcome remarks from Mr. G.S. Withanage, the Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Employment, H.E. Mr. Heinz Walker-Nederkoorn, Ambassador of Switzerland to Sri Lanka and Maldives, and Mr. Giuseppe Crocetti, Chief of Mission, International Organization for Migration (IOM), Sri Lanka. “There is an urgent need for identifying challenges and developing comprehensive strategies that recognize the short-term and long-term labour market needs for all Colombo Process member states. Serious consideration needs to be given to providing consistence with labour market needs and more regular labour migration opportunities at the skill level, as well as cross border recognition of skills”, stated Mr. Withanage in his opening remarks.

The workshop discussion was enriched by the participation of resource persons from COD, academia, IOM, International Labour Organization and UN Women, and the delegates exchanged ideas for the development of a Labour Market Research Operational Guide, capacity building activities and the Colombo Process online repository as the knowledge forum. The delegates also agreed on the activation of the TAWG on Labour Market Analysis based on the discussions at the Workshop.