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Thursday, 23 May 2024
Saudi Arabia employs highest number of Sri Lankan workers in 2023

Saudi Arabia employs highest number of Sri Lankan workers in 2023

International Desk

Saudi Arabia has ranked first in providing work opportunities to Sri Lankan expats in 2023, as more than 63,000 of them found employment in the Kingdom.

Every year, more than 200,000 migrant workers leave Sri Lanka to work abroad. They are a main source of foreign exchange for the country, which since last year was gripped by its worst ever financial crisis.

P.M. Amza, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, estimated that in 2023 remittances amounted to over $7 billion, of which a significant portion was contributed by expat workers in the Kingdom.

“During the year 2023, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has become the number one country, generating 63,000 employment (opportunities) for Sri Lankans,” he told Arab News on Saturday.

“Of the annual remittances amounting to $7-8 billion a year, a sizable portion has been generated from the Kingdom, which is in the region of 15 to 20 percent of the total remittances.”

Gulf Cooperation Council countries are a preferred choice for Sri Lankan workers, with Saudi Arabia being their key destination, lately also attracting skilled professionals to its megaprojects under Vision 2030.

These projects, in addition to a new employment scheme under the Skill Verification Program, were the main factors making the Kingdom increasingly attractive to Sri Lankans, according to Amza.

The SVP agreement signed in March aims to improve the professional competence of employees in the Saudi labor market and ease the recruitment process of skilled workers from the island nation.

Under the deal — which covers 23 professions — Saudi employers recognize accreditations issued by Sri Lanka’s Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission.

“The year 2023 has seen the qualitative and quantitative increase of employment opportunities for Sri Lankans in the Kingdom,” Amza said, adding that while half of Sri Lankan expats have been employed in the domestic sector, this year showed growth in the number of those working in the construction and hospitality sector.

“The signing of the agreement on the Skill Verification Program between the two countries has also contributed to this increase of skill and professional categories of employment, which stood as nearly 12,000 during 2023.”

Source: Arab News

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