Remittance inflow is a key source of foreign currency for Bangladesh. Money sent by the “remittance warriors” has had a highly positive impact on the country’s economy and the society as a whole.
Indeed, money sent by immigrants increase the income of their families but overall, they help the country to grow. Defying all prediction, Bangladeshis working abroad have increased the volume of money they send home during the Covid-19 crisis. Though the remittance inflow has been somewhat discouraging in the recent months we have to appreciate the millions workers toiling abroad for their immense contribution to the economy.
However it would be unwise to paint a totally rosy picture regarding the issue. The fact remains that the majority of Bangladeshi migrant workers are semi-skilled and unskilled. They are mainly involved in low-end jobs. Bangladesh ranks sixth among migrant origin countries, but is ninth among the top 10 remittance receiving nations, meaning that in spite of sending more workers abroad, Bangladesh earns less in remittance. The per capita remittance of Bangladeshi migrant workers is lower compared to the migrant workers of other countries like the Philippines, Sri Lanka, India and Nepal.
In Bangladesh there is lack of awareness about the importance of acquiring new skills; poor utilisation of existing training capacity, skills mismatch with the market demand, lack of upgrading the existing training centres and meagre attempt to creating and updating the training manuals developing and incorporating new materials. Bangladesh has to make a concentrated effort to increase the number of trained migrant workers in order to make the flow of remittance more sustainable.
About one third of the nation’s population is between 18-34 years of age. To take advantage of demographic dividends, we need to provide them quality education and skills training. Keeping in mind the technological advancements, Bangladesh has to undertake new development strategies and put adequate resources to train and equip their workforce. The agencies concerned should formulate a skill development strategy for the country’s workforce.
According to a recent agency report published in this newspaper Foreign Minister Dr A K Abdul Momen has requested his Bahrain counterpart for recruiting more skilled and semi-skilled workers including IT professionals from Bangladesh. He made the appeal during his bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister of Bahrain Dr. Abdullatiff bin Rashid Al-Zayani held in Manama last week.
In the developed countries the demand for skilled migrant workers is likely to grow even further. In the highly competitive international market, industrially advanced countries will continue to import skilled and educated professionals to reduce costs and enhance productivity. Labour-importing countries save money on the high cost of skills training and education of professionals. Mobility of capital and the growth points it creates serve as a magnet for attracting foreign manpower. To take advantage of this situation Bangladesh needs to develop skilled human resources. Lack of language and communication skills is also hindering our professionals from flourishing in the overseas job market. When someone decides to go and work in a certain country, they should have the opportunity of learning the language of that country along with English.
There is a great need for acquiring skills to keep up with the demands of the changing world. Upskilling our migrant workers and equipping them with the knowhow to deal with a rapidly changing work environment will go a long way toward making them ready for the overseas workplace.
Bangladesh also needs to diversify its overseas jobs markets through adoption of proper strategies such as expanding existing markets and designing aggressive programmess penetrating into other countries with aging problem and low population as well as policies to enter into emerging economies like Russia, China, South Africa and East European countries.