Bangladeshi migrant workers arrive at the airport to clear procedures before boarding flights to foreign destinations. Photo: Star/file
Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday in his budget speech gave targets for producing skilled manpower for both local and overseas labour markets, but did not deliver any clear guideline for job creation.
The government will produce a total of 2.6 lakh skilled people for the local market in the next three years with the assistance from development partners, and 10 lakh skilled people for the overseas market in the next 15 years.
For the local market, the government has identified five growing sectors -- garments, construction, information technology, light engineering and ship building, the minister said.
Muhith said his government's diplomatic successes have helped regularise the status of eight lakh Bangladeshi migrants in Saudi Arabia last year, but he mentioned nothing on the government's efforts on reopening the United Arab Emirates job market.
“This budget sheds no light on the mechanism to be highlighted in terms of job creation. Training will be imparted to produce a skilled labour force. The effectiveness of these measures are not sure yet,” said Zaid Bakht, research director of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies.
The UAE and Malaysia, the two major labour markets for Bangladeshi migrant workers, have almost shifted to other neighbouring countries due to the government's slow recruitment system.
Increasing investment in the private sector, establishing political stability and reversing the falling trend in overseas employment are major challenges to job creation in the next fiscal year, analysts said.
“Sluggish private investment and a sudden fall in overseas employment seriously hampered job creation in both local and foreign labour markets last year,” Bakht said.
Private investment dipped as political crisis halted business activities last year.
“Employment generation will depend on an increase in private investment, expansion of industries and the availability of bank loans for private entrepreneurs,” Bakht told The Daily Star.
Around 20 lakh jobseekers enter the job market a year. Of them, only four lakh find overseas jobs while a part of the rest is absorbed by the local market; others remain unemployed.
The number of those absorbed in the local job market depends on economic activities driven by credit growth in the private sector, and investment. Of the government's projected 16.5 percent private credit growth in the current fiscal year, only 11 percent was achieved through March.
“Economic growth depends on adequate investments in the private sector and employment hinges on the private sector oriented job market.”
The prospect of the overseas job market is also not encouraging as the government could not revive the flow of manpower to regular markets like the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the two key labour markets.
Muhith in his budget speech said the country's remittance declined 4.8 percent year-on-year during July-April of the current fiscal year. He said remittance declined not only in Bangladesh but also globally.
However, analysts said the continuous fall in manpower exports is a major reason behind the decline in remittance.
“Regaining the traditional foreign labour markets that Bangladesh lost in the last few years should be the prime focus to increase overseas employment and remittance in the next fiscal year,” said Prof Tasneem Siddique, founder chair of Refugee and Migratory Movement Unit, a manpower research organisation.