Unemployed graduates and unemployed non-graduates

Posted on June 12, 2007  /  6 Comments

  Unemployment is an issue in most of the countries, developing or developed. ‘Graduate Unemployment’ is perhaps a burning issue unique to Sri Lanka. Many, not just the unemployed graduates, think we should treat that issue with utmost importance. Ethnic issue or inflation can wait, but not graduate employment.

Any idea why the issue assumes such a high priority?

Frankly, if I were to take a choice I will always give priority to the issue of ‘Non-Graduate Unemployment’. These are my reasons.

o       Numbers: The number of unemployed non-graduates is about 25 times more than the number of unemployed graduates.

o       Theoretically it is easy for a graduate to find a job. We should help the weaker, not the stronger. (This argument might not be valid always. One observer noted the more we ‘educate’ students the more we make then unemployable)

o       Since university education is free, state (and the society) had already spent enough making an individual a graduate. (a minimum of Rs. 500,000) So it is fair to focus on the group that had not received that privilege.

In spite of these logical and sensible reasons, there are enough people in our society who entertain romantic ideas towards the issue of unemployed graduates. Perhaps it is empathy. Perhaps we assume (incorrectly) that we as a society have an obligation to provide jobs to the educated sections. Whatever it is, the manner we have reacted is questionable.

‘Rata Perata’ Govt, few months after assigning the office provided jobs for more than 40,000 graduates. Never mind Sri Lanka has a huge government which is already overcrowded. Never mind that Sri Lanka spends 54 cents from every tax rupee it earns to pay salaries and pension to government servants. Never mind we do not need that many officers in government. Never mind we printed money to pay them and inflation hit the ceiling. We have solved the issues of the ‘Graduate Unemployment’.

Finally, have you ever observed these interesting phenomena about ‘Graduate Unemployment’?

  • It is always the unemployed graduates who conduct protests marches and demands the job from the government. (as if there is no unemployment problem among non-graduates)


  • Even among graduates it is only graduates from local universities who face this issue. (Foreign graduates, who study parallel subjects never face this burning issue)


  • Private sector, the biggest employer does not want even to touch more of the unemployed graduates with a barge pole. However, private sector do not have this problem with unemployed non-graduates.


  • JVP is a political party who strongly back unemployed graduates. JVP is also a political party strongly advocate war. However JVP never try to settle the issue by urging unemployed graduates to join forces. (so they can kill two birds with two stones) Looks like JVP and unemployed graduates do not find working for security forces as ‘employment’.


(This is the view point of a guest writer. Open for discussion)


  1. I think the biggest problem with these “job demanders” are their attitude. Once they are through with the formal education they expect someone to present them with a good job on a silver platter.
    If they just open their eyes and look around them, they could find thousand and one possibilities of doing something and making a good living. For example someone very close to me, a housewife, is making huge profits (and I mean huge!) growing and selling plants in her own backyard and now she’s expanding her business to landscaping.

    But of course there is the notion of a ‘good job’ or white collar job in our society. This prevents people from doing many things, which are needed to be done by someone. I think this is very detrimental to our people! This again is an attitude problem.

    And you maybe right in saying that non-graduates should be given priority, not just because of their numbers but also because they can be trained in different skills to work in something other than the govt sector. If we can provide them with the proper guidance and help to start up their own business rather than trying to absorb them into an already saturated government ministry, it would be better for everyone.

  2. There will be a protest by so called *under employed* graduates in front of the Ministry of Public Administration tomorrow. In addition to higher salaries they ask for few other things like proper designations. (whatever that means)

    If the government thought the issue would be over by giving them jobs, they are yet to learn.

  3. The ratio of Unemployed graduates : all other unemployed is about 1:30 (Sunil Chandrasiri, IRQUE report, Feb 2006, based on QLFS data)

    Shilpi asks why this fuss about a small minority.

    It is because it makes imminent political sense. To the uninitiated, graduates represent the cream of the cream, and for the government it is a matter of numbers. Give 20,000 or so jobs and make the masses feel like the government cares or do the harder work of selling the tough road that needs to be traveled to create economic growth and jobs.

    Politicians are opportunistic creatures but our current leader Rajapakse would beat anybody living or dead for opportunism. No chance that he or his government is going to tell the truth unless…… unless the electorate speaks.

  4. From http://www.lankatruth.com

    Graduate employees to take trade union action

    (13th June 2007 – 17:10 S.L.T)

    Graduate employees have decided resort to trade union action as the government has not make any intervention whatsoever to solve problems in their profession.

    They were able to secure permanent employment after they had agitated for more than 10 years as unemployed graduates. But the jobs they have been given do not have any standard and in very institution in the government service they have had to do duties of the labourer to the head and they are subjected to various pressures.

    A huge protest campaign will be held in front of the ministry of public administration at 12.00 PM on 14th June against the unfair manner treated to the graduate employees with the knowledge of the government.

  5. Unemployments of graduates is a problem that we are facing again & again.If we want to solve this problem we should perform our under graduates under degree program what suitable to the job market.According to my point of view still our university system is not ready for it,but Uva Wellassa University is going to achive that target from their well set degree programs.I think other universities should fallow that system.

  6. There is no any equal opportunity when offering government jobs.as example the government made a list of 300 student and they issued result for only that group for Audit examiners exam . other who have sit for the exam they have right know there result. this is done when they recruiting graduate for CTB. why we can not get together and ask the trasparancy for the these exam.

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