Most UK and European graduates will be engaged in voluntary and relief work, teaching English to children and adults and other activities with non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Paid employment may be difficult for foreign graduates to find, but certain growth areas such as the tourism industry, which have picked up since the civil war ended in 2009, may provide suitable openings.
Although Sri Lanka is no longer plagued by internal conflict there are many other problems requiring international aid intervention. There are opportunities for graduates to get involved in projects addressing a range of issues such as poverty, the marginalisation of vulnerable groups, and the rebuilding of communities following war and natural disaster.
Typical problems encountered: although there are a number of expats in Sri Lanka employed in commerce and industry, applicants should be aware that they are competing with an increasing indigenous graduate population. Typical salaries will be lower than in Europe.
How to improve your chances: knowledge of Sinhala and Tamil would be an advantage.
Language requirements: Sinhala and Tamil are the official languages, with English acting as the ‘link’ language. English is widely spoken, particularly in business, and is likely to be an essential requirement for graduate-level positions.
Where can I work?
Major industries: processing of rubber, tea, coconuts, tobacco and other agricultural commodities, telecommunications, insurance, banking, tourism, shipping, clothing, textiles, cement, petroleum refining, information technology services, construction.
Recent growth areas: tourism and infrastructure.
Industries in decline: tea.
Shortage occupations: there is currently a skills shortage in the insurance sector.
Major companies: Courtaulds, Sri Lanka Telecom, Ceylinko Insurance, 3M, KFC, Pizza Hut, Marks & Spencer, Unilever, Shell, Citigroup.
Search for more companies:Kompass is a worldwide business directory searchable by country and product/service.
Major cities: Sri Jayawardenepura (capital), Colombo (commercial capital), Kandy, Jaffna, Galle.
What’s it like working in Sri Lanka?
Average working hours: people in Sri Lanka work a five-day week, from Monday to Friday. Office hours are typically 9am to 5pm for government and business, 9am to 3pm for banks and 10am to 6pm for shops.
Holidays: around 25 public holidays are available in Sri Lanka in addition to the leave granted by companies for employees.
Average graduate starting salary: salaries for junior managers are £76 - £103 per month and for senior managers £152 - £334 per month. Average minimum salary for trainees, up to six months, is £26 per month.
Tax rates: individual taxable income rates are set at 5% on the first 400,000 rupees. After that, tax rates are on a sliding scale, up to 35%. For further information see Worldwide Tax Rates.
Working practices and customs: business dress, greetings, communication styles and business meetings are all very similar to the British system.
This website is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets if you are able to do so.