The country saw a fall in overseas employment by more than 17 per cent in the first four months of the current calendar year following a cut in recruitment by Middle Eastern (ME) nations, official statistics showed.
A total of 226,771 workers went abroad with jobs in the January-April period this year while 273,304 workers went abroad in the corresponding period of the previous year, the data of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) showed.
However, the manpower recruiters feared that if the trend continued, it would be hard to send even 500,000 workers abroad in the current calendar year. Bangladesh sent 734,181 workers abroad in 2018 and 1,008,525 in 2017.
The ME countries such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait have reduced the recruitment of foreign workers following their sluggish development work.
As part of policy reforms, Saudi Arabia has employed more local workers in different sectors. Besides, Oman is discouraging recruitment of less-skilled workers from Bangladesh.
But the officials at the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment said they were focusing now on quality migration, rather than the number. So, if the number of workers going abroad declines, it will not create a problem as they will send more skilled workers.
Talking to the FE correspondent, Lima Begum, member of the executive committee of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA), said the government should take necessary initiatives to secure jobs in the markets remaining closed for a long time. "Otherwise, it will be difficult for them to survive," she said.
The government should also explore new markets and trade as the demand for workers in traditional markets is declining gradually, said Lima, who is also proprietor of Jannat Overseas.
Recruitment by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Malaysia remained stopped currently.
Although the outflow of workers declined, the inward remittances grew by 10.01 per cent in the 10 months of the current fiscal year (FY) due to the depreciating rate of the local currency against the US dollar.
Bangladeshi nationals working abroad sent home $13.03 billion during the July-April period of the FY 2018-19 against $12.09 billion remitted home in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal year, the central bank data said.
The BMET data revealed that Saudi Arabia recruited 123,474 workers followed by Qatar with 28,169, Oman 26,444 and Singapore 14,561 in the last four months.
Over 1.2 million workers had been sent abroad since 1976, the BMET data showed.
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