12.04 lakh workers have gone abroad from Bangladesh till November 29 this year. Last year this number was 11.35 lakh
Rabiul Haque: Bangladesh has achieved a major milestone in the export of manpower. As of November this year, the country’s manpower exports have surpassed all previous records. According to the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), 1.24 lakh workers have gone abroad from Bangladesh till November 29 this year.
Last year this number was 11 lakh 35 thousand. A positive aspect of labor migration this year has been the sending of record numbers of workers to non-traditional destinations such as Italy and the UK rather than traditional markets in the Middle East. However, concerns remain. Because numerous workers are facing challenges in securing proper employment mainly in Oman, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia due to the lure of fake jobs.
Another point of concern is that despite the increase in foreign employment, the flow of expatriate income (remittances) has not increased at the same rate. Remittances have stagnated at just under $22 billion for the past two fiscal years. Immigration experts and bankers attribute this disparity to three primary factors. These are the prevalence of low-skilled occupations, the use of illegal channels (hundi) for money transfer and cases of some recruiters in the country taking money from unskilled workers by offering fake jobs from foreign employers for financial gain.
One of the reasons for the increase in foreign employment is the re-opening of the Malaysian labor market after four years of closure. The country has employed 328,000 Bangladeshi workers in various sectors including manufacturing, construction, services, agriculture, mining and household this year. Malaysia now ranks second only to Saudi Arabia in employing Bangladeshi workers. It should be noted that Saudi Arabia is at the top position in the recruitment of Bangladeshi workers.
In addition, setting the quota for Bangladeshi workers or workers in Saudi institutions or companies from 25 percent to 40 percent is also one of the reasons for the increase in foreign employment in the last two years. This year, Italy has employed 16,297 Bangladeshi workers, especially in the agriculture, hospitality and manufacturing sectors. This is the highest in a single year.
The UK employed a record 9,427 people in the service, domestic and hospitality sectors. South Korea and Singapore have also hired significant numbers of Bangladeshi workers this year. Employers recognize that workers unable to go abroad in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic are moving abroad in subsequent years. Behind this success of the manpower export sector, the allegation of the lure of fake jobs is not less.
A recent study by the Refugee and Migratory Movement Research Unit (RMMRU) found that more than 35 percent of migrant workers returned home within one to 16 months after going abroad after the coronavirus, but not meeting various employment conditions. Labor experts believe that recruiting agencies and foreign employers provide many workers with false documents to lure them to work in the Middle East. That’s why the number of Bangladeshi workers who want to migrate to other countries is increasing. According to internal sources related to the sector, concern has increased over Oman’s recent new visa suspension on Bangladeshi nationals.
It is heard that workers are losing jobs, being cheated by middlemen and not getting the jobs they want. Secretary General of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) Ali Haider Chowdhury said, “We have achieved a milestone because recruiting agencies have been able to send workers based on fair demand.
Besides, the number of workers has also increased. The number of unemployed is very small compared to the total number of workers. He said that if someone does not get a job after going to the country of destination, it is not the responsibility of the concerned agency.
Rather, these demand letters are scrutinized at various levels including the Bangladesh Embassy. Only then are agencies allowed to send workers. He said to stop expatriate workers from sending remittances through illegal channels, apart from getting high prices in hundi, their working hours are wasted in sending through banking channels.
Again, there are many undocumented workers abroad. They cannot send money through banking channels for fear of being caught beyond the specified limits. Therefore, initiatives should be taken so that expatriates can easily send remittances at higher rates at home.
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