The number of outbound Bangladeshi workers continues to fall over months with a significant number of expatriates returning home from abroad.
According to the official data, the country’s outbound jobs declined by about 23 per cent in the first two months of the current year compared to the corresponding period of the previous year.
Bangladesh sent 109,607 workers during the January-February period this year while the figure was 141,228 during the same period last year, the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) data showed.
Sector insiders attributed such drop in overseas jobs mainly to a downward trend in manpower recruitment by the Middle East (ME) job destination countries.
On the other hand, a good number of Bangladeshis returned home after being jobless in the ME countries especially in Saudi Arabia. Many of them were arrested by the police and sent to deportation camps.
Some 135 Bangladeshis were expected to come back home on Saturday night from the deportation camps in Saudi Arabia, officials and rights campaigners said.
At least 25 people return home from the Arab country every day, they added.
Saudi Arabia, the largest job market for Bangladeshi workers, has recently banned different categories of jobs for foreign workers.
Due to such ban, the Bangladeshi workers who went to that country with individual visas have suffered a lot.
Sector insiders said Bangladesh mainly depends on one or two markets that create risk for a sending country.
Besides, maximum workers go abroad with jobs with individual or so-called free visas. So, a section of manpower recruiters take a chance to exploit these workers.
They are selling visas at high prices. As they cannot provide jobs, so many workers are now becoming irregular and coming back home, they said.
About 80 per cent of Bangladeshi workers are going to ME countries with free visas, according to manpower recruiters.
Bangladeshi workers are also struggling to manage jobs in other ME countries like Kuwait, Qatar and Oman. Many workers also left these countries after they lost jobs.
Malaysia, another traditional market, stopped hiring workers from Bangladesh in September 2018 due to an allegation of syndication and human trafficking in the recruitment process.
It also put an impact on overall job figure. In the last two months, only 35 workers went to the Southeast Asian country from Bangladesh.
Tasneem Siddiqui, chair at Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU), suggested formulating a long-term policy with restructuring the education and training systems that would facilitate improving the workers’ skills to a standard suitable for the job destinations.
She also recommended taking necessary measures to diversify job markets.
Vocational education should be made mandatory to create skilled workers for the overseas market. Otherwise, she said, it would be very difficult to keep the market stable.
Ms Siddiqui also observed that recruiters should create company visas to eliminate exploitations rather than sending workers through individual visas.
“The government of Bangladesh should take immediate measures in this regard,” she said.
The BMET data revealed that Saudi Arabia recruited 54,807 workers in the last two months, followed by Qatar 18,612, Oman 13,720 and Singapore 6,042.
Over 1.2 million workers went abroad since 1976, the data showed.