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Young people in Sri Lanka should consider higher education in areas other than business studies, as Sri Lanka's market for management trainees may be saturated.

Businesses say salaries and perks of management trainees are declining because of the large number of business graduates and MBA holders being churned out by both State universities as well as private higher education services providers. Some years back, jobs as management trainees were seen lucrative routes to career development and a prestigious managerial post. Even up to the late nineties, management trainees were paid much higher salaries than trainees in other sectors, and were also given perks such as their own cars. Trainees were promoted to managerial posts within a short a period of six months.

Now however, many companies are adopting the system of hiring management trainees on six month probation and at the end of the probation period, instead of offering permanent positions in the company, are offering only short term contracts of one to two years. The salaries are also said to be lower than 10 to 15 years ago, despite cost of living increasing in Sri Lanka. The job of a management trainee meanwhile has got harder with many young people with first class degrees given field jobs, such as regular sales rounds, supermarket checks and outdoor promotional activities, as part of their probationary work.

Industry sources say the reason is the large supply of management trainees over the last decade or so, due to the large number of private education services providers offering degrees and MBAs in areas such as business management and human resource management. Sri Lanka also has a large number of young people qualifying as accountants, every year, under many different accountancy programmes. This sudden and large supply increase has allowed companies to be more selective in their hiring and to also significantly cut down on the employment benefits, including salaries.

Education services providers say business studies are a popular choice for many girls and boys, due to the belief that these qualifications offer better employment prospects, particularly in Sri Lanka's private sector. However, education services providers say young people should now consider other fields of studies that may also be relevant to the private sector, instead of concentrating only on business management degrees.

For instance, there is a growing demand in Sri Lanka's mental health field for counsellors, therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists. There is also demand in the health sector for nurses. The booming tourism industry has generated many opportunities for young people in tourism.

So if you are looking for a job in the private sector, it might be a good idea to look beyond business management degrees, into other equally rewarding fields.



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