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Overseas employment raises aspiring migrants' confidence

| Updated: February 21, 2022 13:46:23

FE file photo used for representation — Collected FE file photo used for representation — Collected

A steady rebound in Bangladesh's overseas labour employment raises hope for the jobs figures to shoot over the one-million mark at the yearend, enhancing economy-boosting remittance.

More than 100,000 Bangladeshi workers found jobs abroad this past January -- in a crescendo over three months. Around as many went abroad in each of the previous two months (November and December) as per official data.

Manpower-recruiters project that such a healthy growth may continue over the year, as the trend in the outflow of workers to traditional markets, especially to Saudi Arabia, remains stable.

If and when Malaysia, another vital job-destination country, starts hiring soon, under a new deal, the number of employments would increase further.

In this perspective of a rebound from the pandemic-induced slump, the officials concerned and recruiters hope that the overseas jobs figure would cross 1.0-million in the ongoing year.

Data released by the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) show that 109,698 workers found jobs abroad this January. A total of 131,316 workers went abroad in December, while 102,861 in November 2021.

Former secretary-general of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) Ali Haider Chowdhury told the FE that the outflow of workers would gather steam in the remaining months as they are collecting an increased number of jobs demand from different countries, especially from Saudi Arabia.

"Saudi Arabia needs a large number of workers for its construction, maintenance and services sectors," he says, adding that a significant number of workers are securing employments in these sectors each month.

Bangladesh sent manpower to mainly 15 countries in January. About 65 per cent or 71,172 workers were sent to Saudi Arabia. Oman hired 14,515 persons while the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 12,885, Singapore 3,841, Jordan 1,478 and Qatar 1,431.

Md Shahidul Alam, director-general of the BMET, hopes that a record number of people to go abroad with jobs in 2022.

About 200,000 more jobs are estimated to be added in this sector in the current year through restart of manpower recruitment by Malaysia, another vital market. So, the number of jobs may cross 1.0 million in 2022, he predicts.

Job opportunities also have been created in some other countries, including Greece and Italy, which would help increase quality migration, the BMET chief says.

"We are trying our best to achieve the goal of quality of migration as well as increase in employment opportunities," Mr Alam notes.

There have been pushes from various quarters, nowadays, for exploring high-end jobs through raising skilled manpower to match with demands emerging in various countries while the world is reopening in new normal.

BAIRA's former secretary-general Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman hopes to be able to send 25,000 to 30,000 more workers each month should airfare remain at reasonable levels.

"Many workers cannot afford the cost," he says, adding that the government should find a durable solution in this situation -- of migration-cost hike, driven by travel costs.

Currently, the fares for Middle East-bound flights are varying from Tk 70,000 to Tk 80,000, Mr Noman mentions.

According to the official count, more than 13 million Bangladeshi workers have gone abroad since 1976. A total of 617,209 Bangladeshis found jobs in 2021 while 217,669 in 2020.

Officials are hopeful over increasing remittances in coming days following healthy growth in overseas employment, and the enhancement of the rate of incentives to 2.5 per cent from 2.0 per cent for remitters. The workers annually send about US$20 billion home as remittances.

On the other hand, migration experts and rights activists see it as a piece of good news that overseas employment is showing an uptrend. At the same time, they said, it should be ensured that all the workers get jobs.

"Still maximum of the workers are going to the Middle-Eastern countries with individual or so-called free visas that do not ensure jobs," says Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program (OKUP) chairman Shakirul Islam.

It should be monitored by the government that workers are getting their due jobs, Mr Islam observes.

He also emphasises sending workers through ensuring job-contract papers on valid employment visas.

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