The Bangladesh Overseas Employment and Services Limited (BOESL), the country's lone official channel to send workers abroad, has almost become a non-performing entity of the government. Since its inception in 1984, it could send only a few skilled workers to South Korea and female garment workers to Jordan.
Such a situation has emerged due to lack of proper strategy and marketing mechanism. Despite having potentials, the BOESL is failing to send adequate number of workers abroad. According to a recent survey, the BOESL has higher organisational capacity than the private recruitment agencies. But, its contribution to overall migration is 2.0 per cent only.
Yet the fact remains, the entity has the reputation of sending quality manpower to the overseas destinations at minimum migration cost. So it should focus more on market expansion in different countries.
In fact, lengthy procedure in the official channel prevents the organisation from going for aggressive marketing, like the private recruiters. As a result, the outflow of workers through the agency is very slow. As it is a government-run agency, it needs to go through some procedures in case of expansion of its activities.
While the private recruiting agencies can maintain many channels and frame various strategies to explore manpower demand and send workers on a large scale, the BOESL cannot do these, as it has certain responsibilities as a government organisation.
The BOESL claims that it ensures cent per cent transparency as well as safe and orderly migration. As such, it is unable to engage any intermediaries to explore demand and send workers.
In fact, public perception about private manpower agents is in no way positive. The media have been highlighting, from time to time, the sordid plight of innocent jobseekers because of the fraudulent activities of a section of manpower agents.
There are plenty of cases of dishonesty and forgery relating to the business of many such agents who have also been charging exorbitant fees from their 'clients'. Yet, it would perhaps be too unfair not to recognise the contribution of private recruiting agencies to manpower export and steady growth of the country's remittance earnings.
Very often, the Prime Minister is asking the private manpower agencies to explore new and safe markets for sending labourers. However, the saying that 'good counsel to a rogue bears no fruit' does otherwise fit in perfectly in the case of a section of dishonest and greedy manpower recruiters. Such recruiters do not hesitate even for a moment to push unsuspecting jobseekers into extreme danger and uncertainty.
Worrying signals are, in fact, coming from the country's manpower export front. Market for our unskilled labourers is getting thinner day-by-day. Many recession-hit countries are shutting doors to prospective migrants from the least developed countries including Bangladesh. The country is yet to find new destinations for its vast workforce for employments.
There is good demand for trained nurses in the developed countries like USA and Canada. Eastern Europe is in dire need of masons, carpenters, electricians etc. For lack of knowledge of English language, skilled workers are unable to find jobs in these countries. Such weakness was felt long ago, but the government did not take due initiative in this regard. Proficiency of English language is a must for getting overseas job now.
In fact, there is a huge demand for skilled and technical manpower in scores of overseas countries. Priority for the government is to explore these prospective destinations for the local overseas jobseekers..
On its part, the government agency - BOSEL -- should introduce a proper strategy to raise the number of workers abroad. The organisation sends workers at low migration cost and follows procedures duly to ensure safe migration.
All said and done, BOSEL should act more actively to send more workers, and set an example to the private recruiters regarding promoting successful and safe migration. The agency could be a role model for private sector recruiters, as its success rate is higher in terms of safe migration.
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