Switzerland and the United States to support migrant workers | Sunday Observer

Switzerland and the United States to support migrant workers

28 March, 2021

The Swiss and US governments have joined hands to initiate the Safe and Resilient Migrant Workers (SRMW) projectin Sri Lanka. Designed to provide much needed guidance and skills development for Sri Lankan migrant workers, SRMW will be fully integrated with the US Agency for International Development supported USD 18 million youth employment and entrepreneurship project, YouLead.YouLead’s work over the past three years on career guidance and vocational skills development, combined with more than ten years of experience by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) working to improve the overall well-being of migrant workers, makes the two partners an ideal match.

The Swiss contribution of $1.5 million over three years will provide guidance and skills training for thousands of migrant workers, as well as helping returned migrant workers assess their skills learned overseas and link them to employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in Sri Lanka.SRMW, part of SDC’s ‘Safe Labor Migration Program Phase IV’ was formally launched on March 2, 2021 at the Embassy of Switzerland in Colombo, by Ambassador Dr. Dominik Furgler of Switzerland and Ambassador Alaina Teplitz of the United States.

The project is designed to make overseas employment safer and more rewarding, both financially and professionally, by providing better occupational information and by increasing the skill levels of Sri Lankans who go abroad for work.

It will also work to help reintegrate returning workers into meaningful productive opportunities in Sri Lanka. SRMW comes at a particularly important time as more than 50,000 migrant workers are returning home due to the pandemic — many of them without employment prospects.

The activity will focus its efforts in Kandy, Kurunegala, Anuradhapura, Puttalam and Vavuniya — all districts with large numbers seeking work overseas, while actively influencing national policy initiatives for improved skilled migration.

“The pandemic has undoubtedly highlighted the challenges faced by migrant workers for years, and this developing crisis calls for immediate action. Therefore, the ‘Skilled and Resilient Migrant Workers Project’ aims to build on the foundations laid by the safe labor migration programmes launched by the government of Switzerland, to accelerate its positive impact on Sri Lanka’s migrant labor force,” commented His Excellency the Swiss Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Dominik Furgler.

Ambassador Teplitz said, “With migrant workers contributing 9% of Sri Lanka’s overall GDP, it is a matter of urgency to equip them with the skills necessary to strengthentheir personal welfare and amplify their contribution to the economy. We recognise their importance to the country’s development and applaud the role they play. Hence, it is our duty to help them secure safe, sustainable livelihoods wherever they are in the world.”

SRMW Project Director and YouLead Deputy Project Director Chrishan Pereira said, “This project attempts to build the capacity of community-based organisations (CBOs) to serve the needs of large numbers of returning migrant workers more effectively and sustainably, with a focus on women migrant workers and the skillsets particular to women migrant worker needs. With YouLead’s strong relationships with the private sector and training organizations, as well as experience in recognition of prior learning, we are ready to take this challenge head on”.