Bangladesh must address migrant workers’ issues

26 May, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Bangladesh must address migrant workers’ issues

We are extremely sad hearing the news of 37 Bangladeshi migrants death in Friday’s (10-05-2019) boat capsize in the Mediterranean sea while attempting to reach Europe from Libya. The news is very pathetic. The Bangladeshi workers left their native land only for a job or a hope of better living in foreign land. They dreamt to be self-reliant, to earn a lot of money and help their family and relatives at home.

For this reason, they sold their property or livestock or mortgage their mother’s and wives’ ornaments to collect the money for the journey. They depend on brokers or middlemen or follow illegal and unauthorized channels to go abroad for jobs. Perhaps, some of them are successful in this adventure. But many of them fall into traps, disasters like cyclone, boat capsizes and unfortunately get killed.

The survivors return to their native land empty handed. They fall into worse conditions after they return. Again they are unemployed, with no money and frustrated after losing resources. They suffer more when they do not get any job or any alternative way for earning money or livelihood. Mentionable point is that remittance sent by Bangladeshi expatriates makes significant contribution towards accelerating economic growth of the country and increasing foreign exchange reserve.

Some of the funds could be used to address problems such as increasing unemployment and poverty. The manpower export is increasing with increasing population. Bangladesh exports manpower through the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment with its subsidiary “Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET). According to the statistics of the BMET from 2006 and 2015, it is observed that more than 50 percent of overseas workers who went abroad are less-skilled. The number of expatriates classified by skills is shown in the table below.


It is observed that the share of professional workers has increased significantly. But there is a significant change in the structure of expatriates classified by skill. In 2006 the share of skilled expatriates was 30 percent. While, the share increased to 38 percent in 2015. Likewise, the share of less-skilled workers stood at 45 percent in 2015 from 61 percent in 2006.

The Government is concerned to increase the standard and opportunity of training to increase overseas employment. At the same time, initiative has been taken to coordinate the activities between training and vocational institutions. Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) is conducting several training programs through six Bangladesh Institute of Marine Technology and 47 technical training centers respectively.

We should motivate our migrant workers/manpower for their welfare and safety when they go abroad for any job or livelihood. We have legal, accountable and authorised channel, government and non-government agencies to help them go abroad. We should encourage and motivate our aspirant workers to go abroad for job with definite skill and through proper dependable channels. Otherwise, they will fall into traps or other disadvantages.

We should also encourage our young unemployed workforce to employ themselves in our agriculture, agro-based industries, SMEs and other indigenous small industries or self-employed farm/firm for avoiding uncertainties of foreign jobs. Our electronic and print media can play a vital role in this respect.

Meetings, seminars, talk-shows, TV programs can be arranged for this purpose. Our print media can report or publish research articles explaining advantages and disadvantages of the rule of business of our expatriate worker’s job in foreign land. We have diplomatic missions abroad who can oversee and care for the well-beings of the migrant workers. Our diplomats who are assigned in foreign embassy should give more attention to this matter for the interest of the nation.


Md Muzibur Rahman, freelance writer