Shahenoor Akther Urmi
‘I never imagined the suffering I am going through at present even in my nightmare’ M Rashed, 22 years old, was describing his miserable condition over the phone, literally crying and murmuring ‘ambition without skill is utopia only’.
Just a year ago Yasin went to UAE holding a tourist visa with the intention of staying for many days and took shelter in a cousin’s house after the visa expired. Since then he remained unemployed and some days he also slept on the floor of the mosque.
My family sent me two lakhs for my survival but the living cost is expensive here, he said, adding that the travel agency told me that I will get a job after some months in a hotel or restaurant, but in reality it’s a lie.
Hailing from Satkania upazila under the Chattogram district, Yasin left the country in the middle of his Higher Secondary School (HSC) education with the dream of making money to contribute to family wellbeing.
Another Ziaur Rahman, 17, student of nine standard of Qawmi Madrasah at Cox’s Bazar district went to Saudi Arabia with a labor visa three years ago, but he got a job in the agriculture sector and the salary instead of his effort was very low to survive. After one year he flew away from the place and was working as a day laborer in a new place until the law enforcement caught him with visa expired.
He has no money to extend the visa and has to go back to the country within months, Ziaur’s cousin said, adding that it cost almost four to five lakhs to send Ziaur’s abroad.
According to the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) source, the number receiving training on Information Management and Technology (IMT) and Technical Training Center (TTC) under three categories has been increasing. The data shows that in 2020 the number was 1,54,511, in 2019 (5,83,768), in 2018 (6,81,786), in 2017 (8,39,727), in 2016 (5,67,279) and 2015 (61,864) respectively.
M Jahirul Alam Majumder, Deputy Director (Emigration) of BMET under the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment said Unemployment, lack of knowledge and family pressures all these factors put the immigrants in a dilemma while they decided to go to abroad for earning money. More skilled people are going abroad but the number is not up to the mark yet.
The Government has TTC in every district, another 40 specialized training centers in upzilas and 100 more TTC are under consideration of the ministry only for building a skilled labour force, he said adding that, lack of student 40 TTC remain empty.
Why families have relied on the agents and send their son’s to an unknown future Majumder, replied social recognition is one of the main barriers not to be skilled because the society does not pay respect to those who are not higher educated. Besides, Middle East countries’ visas do not require skilled people and involve labour oriented jobs.
Terming the government need to take steps on police level, Majumder said compulsory vocational education after secondary or primary level brings a change towards all students. And have to have social recognization of the skill which helps students for enrollment of skill development training.
Referring to Japan and South Korea, the official also said that those countries required skilled migration and candidates have to sit for exams and only successful people are allowed to travel.
As per the monthly overseas employment report from BMET in 2022 (Upto November) most of the people intended to go KSA, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Singapore and the total number was 1,029,054 while it was 617,209 last year respectively.
Among the other districts, Chittagong is considered one of three and a good number of people from Chittagong went abroad through relatives, who process their visa and accommodation. If they asked to gather money for travel they can but not intended to accomplish any skill which would help them to survive abroad.
Thoughtless mentality and having no vocational training during their primary education are the cause of non interest in taking any skill which puts them in trouble abroad. Shariful Hasan, Programme Head, Migration Programme and Youth Initiative of BRAC.
Bangladesh is one of the most expensive countries to export labour and getting paid less because of communication and non-skilled reasons, he added.
Shariful who is also a columnist and writes on the migration issue in the media said to make sure to acknowledge people that if they invest some money and time getting skilled, they will earn well and less chance of abuse during overseas stay.
Shariful also said that this is high time to pay attention to sending skilled labour by concern ministry and compulsory vocational training for those who drop out after eight standard or secondary education, but want to go abroad along with strict policies that need to be taken to stop sending unskilled labor.
Chattogram district is holding the second position in the country to send overseas immigrants and the number was in 2022 (January to November) around 59,053 while in 2021 (24,769), 2020 (11,460), 2019 (33,464), 2018 (35,000), 2017 (58,075), 2016 (45,780), 2015 (32,400), 2014 (28,400), 2013 (35,000), 2012 (70,500), 2011 (73,500), 2010 (48,500) respectively.
Lack of promotion of skill development training and not required capable people in Middle East countries are the reasons behind unskilled labour export, said Nazrul Islam, former Principal of Bangladesh-Korea TTC located at Nasirabad in the port city.
Only five to ten percent of skilled students went abroad while others are unskilled and some are forced to come back to their home country within a few months, he added.
Islam also said that those who got a visa attended the three days training for basic information which is only a basic knowledge course that hardly helps them to work in foreign land.