A DRASTIC fall in the number of Bangladeshi professionals such as doctors, engineers and teachers working abroad in recent times, as New Age reported on Tuesday, does not augur well for the country’s economy highly dependent on remittances. Only 4,638 Bangladeshi professionals landed overseas jobs in 2016 while the figure was 36,084 in 2012. As such professionals have salaries and benefits many times higher than what unskilled workers get in overseas jobs, the decline in the number has huge implications on the remittance inflow. The country sent more seven lakh and a half workers, mostly unskilled and semi-skilled, to overseas destinations in 2016, marking a significant growth in sending migrant workers compared with that in the past few years. Yet, the country earned less than what it earned in remittance in 2015, to which, as experts say, the country’s failure to send abroad more skilled workers and professionals contributed significantly. Reports are there that because of declining demand for low-skilled workers, especially male, among other things, in labour markets in recent years, there has been a decline in the amount of wages and benefits for such workers.
The Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies said that the traditional job market for Bangladeshi professionals shrank in recent years. War-torn Libya and Iraq closed their doors to foreign professionals for understandable reasons. Another lucrative destination for Bangladeshi professionals, Iran, perhaps being subjected to international sanctions over the past several years, has also followed suit. But the government could have managed to reopen the United Arab Emirates job market to workers and professionals by now if it had seriously pursued an effective diplomatic policy on the issue ever since the country stopped receiving human resources from Bangladesh in 2012. The West Asian oil-rich country used to hire marine engineers, civil engineers besides other professionals as well as workers to run various facilities in Dubai before the ban. Although Saudi Arabia recently reopened its job market to all kinds of Bangladeshi workers, ending a seven-year ban, the ministry concerned is yet to take effective steps to capture jobs for different professionals there. Nor did it take any meaningful step to explore new overseas job market in the period.
What is more unfortunate is that the ministry appears to be unwilling to realise the importance of the issue as the minister washed his hands of the matter just by saying that professionals are reluctant to go abroad as they are getting better-paid jobs at home, a statement which is anything but consistent with the ground reality. There are studies galore that unemployment among educated youths now takes place in an ominous proportion in the country. In any case, the government immediately needs to wake up to the problem and take effective measures to tackle it.
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