Protecting the Interests of Asian Migrant Workers through Labour Market Research

Sri Lanka - Over 2.5 million Asian workers leave their countries every year to work abroad, yet there is little attention paid to labour market requirements and trends in their countries of destination.

As job markets become increasingly competitive and technology advances, it becomes more important that overseas employment policies are formulated in response to sectors and skills that are in demand in destination countries, a symposium in Sri Lanka heard this week.

Under the Sri Lankan chairmanship of the Colombo Process (CP) – a regional consultative process on the management of overseas employment and contractual labour for countries of origin in Asia – the symposium established joint activities in labour market research and analysis which will help sending countries to better formulate migration policies.

Secretary of Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Employment G. S. Withanage said: “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 eleven (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.”

“The 2015 Human Development Report states that employees today are vying for jobs in a globalized market. In many areas of work the labour market is now global. Multinational corporations have access to workers around the world and workers must compete on a global scale for jobs…. Capturing labour market trends in Countries of Destination (CODs) is one of the key thematic priorities of CP. Information is imperative for planning designing and implementing labour migration policies,” noted Swiss Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Heinz Walker-Nederkoorn.

“IOM is committed to further supporting the CP member states to make collective progress in this thematic area through regional-level joint actions,” said IOM Sri Lanka Chief of Mission Giuseppe Crocetti.

The workshop was organized as part of the IOM regional project: ‘Strengthening Labour Migration Governance through Regional Cooperation in Colombo Process Countries”, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). IOM is also the Secretariat of the Colombo Process and provides technical and administrative assistance.

For further information please contact Giuseppe Crocetti at IOM Sri Lanka. Email:, Tel: +94 115 325 300.