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No initiatives yet to send skilled workers abroad [ TRADE & MARKET ] 12/01/2017
No initiatives yet to send skilled workers abroad
Arafat Ara

The country\'s overseas job sector is largely dependent on less and semi-skilled workers mainly in the absence of necessary initiatives from the government and private manpower recruiters, sector insiders have said.

They said the government should make a database of skilled workers and also introduce e-migration system to enhance sending skilled workers.Less and semi-skilled workers do not get desired wages and are also vulnerable to abuses in many ways, they also said.

The official statistics of the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) showed that 303,706 (40.08 per cent) workers got jobs in less-skilled category while 119,946 (15.83 per cent) semi-skilled workers went abroad in 2016.The country sent 318,851 (42.08 per cent) skilled workers, 4,638 (0.61 per cent) professionals and 10,590 (1.40 per cent) others last year.

In 2015, the figure of less-skilled outbound workers was 43.88 per cent and semi-skilled 16.89 per cent.  In 2014, less-skilled were 45.43 per cent and semi-skilled 16.47 per cent.
Less-skilled workers are mainly employed in construction, cleaning and plantation sectors in Middle East (ME) and Malaysia. Semi-skilled workers are mostly women who are employed as domestic helps in the ME countries.As per the International Labour Organisation (ILO) decent work report, domestic worker and cleaner categories were not listed as skilled workers.

Sector insiders said as most of workers are recruited through middlemen, the number of less-skilled workers dominate the total market. Middlemen and recruitment agencies usually recruit less-skilled workers so that they can charge more migration fees and exploit them in different ways.

Recruitment agencies have no initiative to bring orders for skilled workers. The government has also no move to recruit the job-seekers who are being trained at Technical Training Centres (TTCs), they said.The Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) runs 70 TTCs across the country. Of the total, six are especially for women.

A total of 307,849 overseas job aspirants received  training in 48 trades in 2016. Of them, 78,816 were women, BMET figures showed. In 2015 and 2014, the figures were 114,455 and 257,892 respectively.

Officials said only 30 to 40 per cent of the trainees secure jobs abroad every year. Rest of them, an insignificant portion, cannot utilise their skills as there is no scope for jobs at home.

Besides, many skilled workers also can\'t match their experiences with their contracted jobs as their training is inadequate. For this reason, they are also treated as less skilled workers and get lower wages.

According to manpower recruiters and rights organisations, a Bangladeshi worker earns on an average US$ 200 a month in Saudi Arabia while a Pakistani worker gets about $400. In Qatar, Bangladeshis earn about $ 150 to $200 while Indians $600, Filipinos $ 500 and Nepalese $ 350 each.

Shakirul Islam, chairman at the Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Programme (OKUP) said the government should make a database of skilled workers for jobs abroad. It should follow international standard in training curriculum and make available training materials, he said.

Bangladesh is still lagging behind in terms of remittance earning because of less-skilled workers. But as a labour sending country Bangladesh is one of the major countries in the world, he added.

Syed Saiful Haque, chairman of WARBEE Development Foundation said recruiters have a tendency to send less-skilled workers as they get more migration fees.They even have no marketing policy to explore demand for skilled workers. "They have to come out of such attitude," he said.

A Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) report said although the country\'s overseas jobs increased, the number of skilled workers didn\'t rise in 2016. Bangladeshi workers mostly are engaged in health hazardous and risky jobs abroad.The report recommended for implementing the \'National Skill Development Policy-2011\' immediately to enhance skills of out-bound workers.

When contacted, BMET Director (training, standard and planning) Nurul Islam acknowledged the issues and said they have already taken a project with \'City and Guilds\' to provide necessary training and certificates to overseas workers who can\'t match their contacted jobs."Primarily, City and Guilds will provide training to Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia and the UAE," he said.

With such a move, the number of skilled workers will increase. The BMET has also different initiatives to increase quality skilled workers, he also said. City and Guilds is a London-based training  organisation.More than 10 million Bangladeshis went abroad with jobs between 1976 and 2016. Of them, 757,731 went in 2016.
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