After being closed for about seven months, migrant workers have started to travel abroad most notably from early this month. In the first 15 days of this month about 5 thousand workers have already traveled while more are waiting.
Although the number is small compared to pre-corona period, it is being seen as an indication of the turnaround in the migration sector. Meanwhile, expatriates have sent a record amount of remittances during the corona period.
New possibilities have been created in the agriculture and health sectors. However, there are questions about how much Bangladesh can make use of the potential sectors due to the lack of skilled workers.
The migrant woking sector was hit hard by the corona epidemic. As of last week, more than workers have lost their jobs and returned from abroad. More than 3.25 lakh expatriate workers were stranded in the country on holiday. About 1.5 lakh new workers could not go abroad even after getting visas due to lockdown. In all, at least 7 million such people were out of jobs.
In the last two months, more than 15,000 new workers and previously having visas have traveled abroad. Demand has come not only from the Middle East, but also from European countries.
Meanwhile, 47 percent of Bangladeshis who have gone abroad in the last 44 years are unskilled and 15 percent are semi-skilled. Those who are called semi-skilled, their skills are also certified. Most of those who lost their jobs during the corona period and returned are unskilled.
However, the skilled are the survivors in this adverse situation. The country's foreign exchange reserves have surpassed the record 42 billion dollars in remittances earned through their hard work.
The Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment is giving permission to send workers abroad almost every day this month. Shamim Ahmed Chowdhury, secretary general of BAIRA, an organization of recruiting agencies, said the faster the corona situation in Bangladesh improves, the sooner the number of workers would be able to travel abroad.
Chowdhury also said that corona has created new possibilities even though it has shattered dreams of many migrant workers. The epidemic has made the world aware of the importance of agriculture and health. Developed countries will need a lot of workers in these two sectors in the coming days.
According to the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), more than 7 lakh workers have gone abroad every year since 2016. In 2017, a record 10 lakh 8 thousand 525 workers went. In four years, 32 lakh Bangladeshis have gone to work abroad. In the first 3 months of this year, 1 lakh 81 thousand 218 workers have gone abroad.
About 80,000 of the stranded workers came from Saudi Arabia on holiday. Their agitation and suffering in demanding plane tickets to return to work was a regular news in the media throughout the month of September. It is learnt that at least 80 percent of the expatriates working in Saudi Arabia have been able to return to work.
IATA accredited Qatar based travel agency One World Tour’s Ticketing and Reservation Officer Zasim Uddin said that the sale of air ticket has increased to a great extent as they got permission to return abroad.