Athula Ranasinghe | University of Colombo

Unemployment problem of Arts graduates in Sri Lanka and the popular recommendation to make them employable is the theme of this paper. This paper shares the conventional wisdom that unemployment problem of arts graduates is high and length of unemployment of arts graduates is also long. Majority of arts graduate find jobs under government recruitment packages and they also prefer to be government employees. As far as the employability traits of graduates are concerned most of the discussion in Sri Lankan context are heavily based on conventional wisdom and isolated experiences than solid statistical evidences. Using literature reviews and a sample survey among undergraduates in Faculty of Arts of University of Colombo this study finds statistical evidence supporting the conventional wisdom that in terms of employability traits arts graduates are far below the standards any professional labour market. Comparing the initial endowment of attributes that student have developed from their school environment, the gap that universities are supposed to fill has become a challenge for universities in developing countries. In developing countries, for state sector universities which are heavily underinvested for many years, lack of human, physical and environmental resources, developing employable attributes in undergraduate students within a short time period like 3 years has become a mission impossible.

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