The World University Service Canada (WUSC) in collaboration with Chambers and National Level organizations held seminars and networking sessions from the 17th to the 20th October with Canadian CSR coach Steven Fish, Executive Director of Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR).
On October 20th construction sector representatives were hosted at the BMICH to hear Steven Fish discuss CSR and how it applies to the construction industry in Sri Lanka. The principal sponsor of this event was Insee Cement. The program began by showcasing sustainability models from Fentons and Insee Cement and featured keynote address by Steven Fish. Following this, a panel discussion was held featuring Mrs. Farzana Khan, Sustainable Development, Communication and External Affairs Director for Insee Cement, Mr Nissanka Wijeratne, CEO Chamber of Construction Industry, Eng. Ashoka Jayasinghe, CEO / Executive Director of ACTA, and Professor Ranjith Dissanayake, Head & Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, University of Peradeniya.
A central topic for discussion was the acute labour shortage in the industry. There are currently 600,000 people in direct employment and 300,000 indirectly employed by the construction sector, but in order to keep up with the growing demand the construction sector requires 1 million skilled workers.
Farzana Khan observed that the current incentives are not enough to pull in youth entering the job market, especially women and that new innovations are needed. Proper working conditions and safety must be addressed, and more inclusive models should be used that include more opportunities for women. Companies must think creatively and look beyond making profits in order to be truly transformational. “There is such enormous growth potential here in Sri Lanka, but sectors may be need a bit of disruption” Fish said. “Smart policy-making, business and society all need to work together for successful CSR” Fish said.
WUSC hosted several seminars on sustainable CSR throughout the week and saw several CEOs and management level representatives from leading corporate companies participating at these events, which also featured the High Commissioner of Canada Shelley Whiting. The events were organised by the Advancing Specialized Skills for Economic Transformation (ASSET) project which is funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada (GAC).