Bangladesh is set to break all previous records since independence in labour migration in the outgoing year, but around 80 per cent of them are unskilled, according to a report by the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU).
The country saw over 10.29 lakh expatriates leaving the country in 2022 by November, and if the trend continues, the migration rate will stand at 81.88 per cent which is higher than the previous year, said the RMMRU report.
At the current rate, by the end of the year, some 11 lakh people are expected to leave the country, said Dr Tasneem Siddiqui, founding chair of RMMRU, while presenting the annual report titled ‘Labour Migration from Bangladesh 2022: Achievements and Challenges’.
However, Dr Tasneem also said the country is expected to see a 3.17 per cent negative growth in remittance this year compared to 2021, despite a record number of people migrating abroad.
The RMMRU report states that the country would receive $21.365 billion in the outgoing year, down from $22.06 billion last year.
Explaining the reason for a lower remittance inflow despite record manpower export, Dr Tasneem said nearly 80 per cent of the labourers going abroad are unskilled, while only 0.33 are professionals.
Besides, the rate of sending skilled migrant workers has decreased to 17.76 per cent this year from 21.33 per cent last year.
Dr Tasneem recommended focusing more on sending skilled, semi-skilled or professional migrant workers to increase remittance inflow.
Also speaking at the event, Dr Kamal Uddin Ahmed, chairman of National Human Rights Commission said a good portion of the unskilled people have some level of education.
“I have seen many migrant workers with lower education qualifications from the Philippines, Vietnam getting higher salaries only because of soft skill training. We need to find out effective ways to train our people and send them as skilled people,” said Dr Kamal, who is also the former home affair secretary.
RMMRU analysed major incidents across the year and identified at least seven setbacks in ensuring safe migration for the people.
Dr Tasnim said the labour market for Bangladesh is centred around only one country and this trend needs to be changed.
Besides, she said the country is yet to send people from the backward communities – northern region of the country and the inland migration prone coastal areas.
As most of the people are unskilled, remittance flow has been negative this year, she said, adding that less incentives and payment against the dollar provoke the migrants to go for hundi in sending money to the country. It is also decreasing remittance flow.
“From one of our recent initiatives, we have found out that youths are more eager to go abroad although they have been offered a job with Tk 30,000 salary. This mindset needs to change. The youths are needed to be counselled to take whatever opportunities they avail in the country,” she said.
Meanwhile, the professor said a record number of people went abroad this year and it is normal that they needed months or a year to settle down before they could contribute to the country’s remittance inflow.
In 2017, the country sent a record amount of people abroad and still had a 0.6 per cent negative remittance flow. But the rate increased in the next few years.
Dr Tasneem expects that remittance flow will come to a positive trend next year.
In the press conference the DU professor also urges the government to increase incentives for these migrant workers from 2.5 per cent to 10 per cent.
Dr Kamal Uddin agreed with the recommendation and hoped that the government would think over it.
He also informed the media that the NHRC is considering taking steps so that complaints of migrants facing misbehaviour in the airport can be addressed.
“NHRC will open a vigilance unit in the airports so that they could monitor how these people are being treated at the airport,” he added.