Sri Lanka female labor force should shift into technology-related sectors: ADB

Sep 15, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s female labour force needs to shift from traditional jobs in education and health sector to more technology-related ones, a recent ADB study indicates.

“Few women have reached the highest level in the employment hierarchy in the judiciary, universities, scientific professions, and in private enterprises,” the Asian Development Bank said in its country gender assessment update.

“But the concentration of women continues to be in the education and health sectors, in secretarial positions, and in the unprotected, low-income, household domestic service in the informal sector.”

“In the education sector, over 70 percent of teachers, 25 percent of principals, and a few high-level administrators are women.”

The majority of those employed in the professions are women, as the teaching and nursing professions are feminized, the ADB said.

In the islands 15 universities, data shows that 57.8 percent of the students were women but gender differences are seen in choice of courses.

Women account for 70.6 percent of those enrolled in arts/ law; 50–70 percent in medical, dentistry, veterinary science, agriculture, management, and commerce; 34.2 percent in computer and information and communication technology (ICT); 22.1 percent in engineering; and 19.8 percent in architecture and quantity surveying.

However, the technical education and vocational training (TEVT) sector had a relatively low image in comparison with higher education over the years.

But the revamping of the sector in the early 21st century and the introduction of a seven-tier National Vocational Qualification Scheme that offers a career path to university level is expected to improve the quality of the programs and to attract more trainees with a long-term perspective.

There are 10 state sector institutes offering courses and in 2014, 68,554 trainees were admitted of whom 39.2 percent were women.

Private sector institutes admitted 45,522 trainees of whom 54.8 percent were women.

“Enrollment patterns in these institutes indicate gender imbalances in enrollment in specific course, underscoring low levels of participation of women in technical related courses,” the report says.

“It is useful to note that most courses in which there is low representation of women have a high demand in the labor market,”

The direction of national policies currently is toward a “knowledge economy” and these gender imbalances in enrollment in technology-related courses are likely to exclude many women from participating in such an economy, the report said.