Moving Three-Wheeler Drivers into Productive Employment
By Ravindra Galhena
In the last 5-10 years we have witnessed a drastic increase in number of three-wheelers we see on the road and this is on the rise by the day! The average annual increase of three-wheelers is around 14% for the past few years. Also, we notice that most of the three-wheeler drivers are young men who are in the prime age of contributing their share to the national economy in a more productive way than a casual engagement of transporting people from point to point.
The facts are astonishing and stubborn! Of the employed 7.8 million Sri Lankans, 1.2 million people are estimated to be three-wheeler drivers. This is a staggering 15.4% of the total working population. The number of three-wheeler drivers who are below the age of 38 years is 67% of the total.
This forces many challenges to the country – presently, many sectors of the economy are desperately looking for manpower. They include the sectors such as construction, hospitality, health, apparel and tourism. As a way out, the National Human Resources Development Council (NHRDC – that comes under the purview of the Hon. Prime Minister) and the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) are joining forces to educate the three-wheeler drivers and make them aware of the alternative and far-sighted employment/career opportunities available to them.
Currently, NHRDC and EFC are working through the Three-Wheeler Drivers’ Association of Borella on their membership (about 1,000 drivers) and drivers’ families on a fact finding mission as preparation for a road show of prospective employers. This will take place in June. The plan is to replicate this programme in the other areas of the country as well in the next few months. These young drivers should be ideally replaced by the retiring workers who are in the 55-60 age bracket.