The Financial Express

Exploring overseas employment prospects  

| Updated: November 21, 2021 22:06:34

Exploring overseas employment prospects   

With the pandemic on the decline both in Bangladesh and the host countries, an upward trend has been observed in the outward movement of migrant workers. A front-page report carried by the Tuesday's issue of this paper corroborates this view. In this context, the data from the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) show that in the 10 months between January and October this calendar year, close to 400,000 migrant workers got employment overseas. Compared to the total number of migrant workers (over 200,000) that the manpower recruiting agents could send abroad over the entire year of 2020, the current year's figure so far is, evidently, impressive. In view of the past few months' record, observers believe, by the yearend, the outbound migrant workers' number may touch the 500,000 figure. Such uptrend in migrant workers' outflow has been possible, thanks to the withdrawal of the pandemic-induced air travel restrictions by the host countries.

The development is no doubt reassuring for an economy that has migrant workers' homebound remittance as the second biggest source of foreign currency earning after garment export. And that is more so given the concern caused by the fall in the inflow of remittance during the last few months, no matter what the reasons are ---remitters' switching to a different mode of money transfer, or otherwise. Now that the number of migrant workers leaving home for employment abroad is on the increase, this should dispel the anxieties, to a certain extent. It would be worthwhile to note at this point that there are around 17 or 18 overseas destinations where Bangladeshi migrant workers find employment. Of those only a few destinations including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Singapore, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) employ the highest number of workers, with Saudi Arabia's share at over 75 per cent. But the choices before the employment-seekers abroad should be far wider than these.

As such, the expatriates' welfare and overseas employment ministry should work for widening the scope for foreign job-seekers both in terms of the kind and the quality of the jobs. It is high time, the government thought of shifting from the current practice of sending low-and-unskilled workers abroad. As low-paid workers the volume of remittance they send home is not much compared to their number. That apart, the migrant workers' naivety is also the reason why they cannot strike a better bargain to get jobs of their choice abroad. Also, their lack of education, training and experience are at the root of their being so vulnerable to exploitation and abuse both at home and abroad. Especially, a migrant worker sometimes may land up in a workplace for which her/his visa was not sponsored. This happens by way of the evil practice of what is known as 'visa trading' whereby the job-seeker's visa is sold to a third party unbeknown to her/him.

Needless to say, such malpractice is the reason behind many accidents, some tragic, in the lives of the workers abroad. Such state of affairs cannot and should not continue. The government needs to look into such malpractices and take immediate steps to get rid of the issues affecting the well-being of the migrant workers. To be frank, remittances coming from the migrant workers have been taken for granted so far. This attitude must change. As it is another lifeline of the economy, the government should treat the foreign remittance sector accordingly and allocate commensurate fiscal resources for its development.

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