For long, remittance sent by Bangladeshis working abroad has been the second-largest source of foreign currency earnings for the country (just after ready-made garments export); and has been a sort of lifeline of our overall economy. According to data released by the Bangladesh Bank, the expatriates remitted $15.54 billion in 2018, a jump of 14.79 percent over 2017. This data obviously covers the amount sent through legal financial channels, actual figure will be a larger one ifa big portion being sent through other channels get added.
Certain countries like: the ones in Persian Gulf region (like: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman) , Malaysia, South Korea have been so far the principal sources of employment for blue-collar expatriate Bangladeshi workers. However, in recent years there has been fall in manpower outflow towards several of these countries .Higher cost of migration, violence against female workers, malpractices by recruiting agencies, shortage of skilled workers, diplomatic dependencies to boost bilateral relations are some of the reasons behind the dip.Bangladesh government along with relevant stakeholders has been actively exploring new labor markets across the globe to. It is also high time to take holistic approach for enhancing foreign employment scopes for Bangladeshi expert and skilled workforce (knowledge workers or “white-collar” ones in general term). Some endeavors have already been taken in this regard.
It is almost needless to discuss about skill and capability of white-collar non-resident Bangladeshis, who are significantly contributing in different arena across the world. These often get visible in different angles- like: a Bangladesh researcher doing cutting-edge research-innovation, a Bangladeshi business leader proficiently running a global business abroad or a Bangladeshi entrepreneur incepting an exceptional trend. Such examples are countless. Questions are that how much of the available scopes are being utilized, and how much of the available workforce in the country are being able to access those. For both questions, answers seem bit negative.
Let us have some look at relevant perspectives in this regard. To avail the best possible working opportunities abroad; first of all there need to be relevant skill, education & experience matching. Then it obviously requires proper approach by incumbent and other related ones; followed by best possible utilization of the opportunity after getting it.The first point (developing proper skill, education & expertise in accordance with need) has been a typical bottleneck in our country, hugely from local context apart from global perspective. Exact figures regarding these may vary, like a British Council sponsored report in 2014 prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) stated that nearly 5 out of every 10 graduates in Bangladesh are unemployed !!! At least it can be said that a good portion of the graduates fail to find suitable job opportunities, as well as career progression scopes afterwards. On the other hand, a significant number of foreign expats are working in different sectors of the country, especially in middle& higher management positions, due to lack of competent local candidates. This clearly indicates the gap between need-dynamism of modern industries and our typical system of education-skill development. Going further into this topic may actually require extensive discussion with facts and figures.
Let us have a look at another point- following proper approach to explore, access and secure available working opportunities abroad. This includes some activities, like remaining well-aware of available scopes, self-presentation in best possible manner and finally converting the chances into concrete opportunity. Here also there can be lot of improvement scopes for incumbents. Very often, despite having solid combination of education-skill-expertise; capable candidates here fail to highlight those and thus loose good opportunities. So it is essential to groom relevant soft skills, through own or mentoring of pioneer ones, along with collaboration between related government-private entities to ensure that available scopes remain visible. Relevant success stories can be highlighted in this regard. In several multi-national companies, there are Bangladeshi top executives successfully leading business in other countries. Like: CEO and Managing Director of Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia is a Bangladeshi. A Bangladeshi is carrying out the role as Head of Manufacturing in British American Tobacco in Poland. Several Bangladeshis have been successfully building and leading different streams of Telenor Group in India, Myanmar, Thailand and Norway.
Couple of months back, first convention of NRB (Non-Resident Bangladeshi) engineers successfully took place in Dhaka; where more than 200 NRBs from 30 countries attended along with huge number of RBs (Resident Bangladeshi). It was jointly arranged by A2I,B2B,ERD with support from PMO and different ministries. As mentioned by the Head of A2I, with the theme of “We are for Bangladesh” or W4B,contribution opportunities by NRBs can be presented in in three basic forms coined as PIE:
- Philanthropy with recognition
- Investment with return
- Expert affiliation with remuneration
So gone are the days when moving abroad for education-job were used to be termed as “brain drain”, it is now rather turning as “brain game” for the country by utilizing skills, experience, and investment of NRBs for Bangladesh. This can be further boosted up by enhancing foreign employment scopes for Bangladeshi white collar experts across the globe.