Kanishka Weerasinghe has taken reins as the 11th Director General of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) with effect from July this year.
An Attorney-at-Law, Weerasinghe came on board of EFC in 1997. An experienced specialist in the fields of industrial relations and employment in the country, he also holds a Masters in International Relations from the University of Colombo and associated qualifications. He holds numerous positions related to his expertise at the national and international level, including the National Labour Advisory Council.
He gained experience in civil and criminal law disciplines at the AGs Department. “The exposure as a State Counsel has been in good stead,” he recalls. He also remembers the Attorneys-General and seniors of yesteryear who constantly instilled in him a sense of integrity and professionalism.
The new Director General considers being recruited by Franklyn Amerasinghe, the EFC’s chief at the time, as a turning point in his career. “I’m extremely grateful to Franklyn Amerasinghe and subsequent Directors General whom I served including Gotabhaya Dassanayake and Ravi Peiris who also exposed me to diverse situations related to employment, moving beyond labor law and industrial relations. I also draw strength from the achievements of Sriyan de Silva, EFC’s CEO prior to Amerasinghe, a luminary in labor law and industrial relations recognized both in Sri Lanka as well as overseas”.
While continuing to keep the legacy of his predecessors alive, the newly appointed Director General aspires to solidify EFC’s interventions in terms of skills development, engaging the community and creating a social dialogue on issues that concern employers and other stakeholders. Citing their innovative interventions such as the Disability Employment Network, Greening of Economies and Green Jobs, the new EFC Chief urges propagating networking. Broadening the EFC’s portfolio of services and continuing to be relevant to members’ needs will be a priority on the new DG’s agenda.
The EFC also aspires to play a more robust role in higher education by facilitating a platform for the future workforce through a National Internship Program supported by employers.
As the EFC’s Director General opines, this platform is mutually beneficial. “For the undergraduate it will be window through which they can see the real world of work and for the employer it will be an opportunity to assess the aspirations and spirit of the new generation.” He further believes that this process will enable the policy-makers to understand the ‘skills gap’ prevalent in the country, thereby find solutions to bridge it.
Creating opportunity for the youth to enhance their presentation skills and English skills, thereby making them ‘market oriented’ is also one of the most prioritized areas of EFC’s future agenda. “A lot of talent is left behind because of the language barrier and if we can collectively address this issue, the entire country could be beneficiaries.” Moreover, the EFC is strongly committed to supporting the government’s initiative of creating one million jobs.
“More jobs would lead to better opportunities for workers, higher spending and consumption, which in turn would create opportunities and markets for business,” asserted the new DG.