Around 85,405 employment visas of different labour-receiving countries are yet to be processed amid the coronavirus pandemic, Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies said today.
Of those, 30,422 visas are waiting for stamping, 22,987 visas have manpower clearance done and waiting for flights, while another 19,198 visas have stamping done, Baira said during a virtual views-exchange meeting with the media.
Also, some 2,816 visas have expired and flights of another 3,078 visas have been cancelled. Process of 6,904 visas remains halted for various other reasons, said the country's apex trade body for overseas recruitment business.
Baira organised the virtual meeting on the emerging situation of Covid-19 pandemic to find a way of moving forward amid the crisis.
A number of Baira executive committee members attended the meeting alongside its president and secretary general.
Baira Secretary General Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman said the given data was from only 328 out of over 1,200 member agencies of the trade body.
"Information from other member agencies could not be gained immediately because offices of most of them remained closed due to the pandemic," he said.
Noman said prior to the global shutdown, Baira had more than one lakh demand letters for overseas jobs in its hands.
Of the now pending visas, about 85 percent are for jobs in Saudi Arabia and the rest are for some other Middle East countries and some East European countries, he added.
He said because of the pandemic, like other sectors, the country's human resource export sector was also facing economic fallout. Noman urged the government to declare separate economic stimulus package for the recruitment agencies.
Baira President Benjir Ahmed said the country has to be prepared now and prepare its workforce by providing skills training as per the demands of post-Covid-19 international labour market, prioritising on those sectors which will have increased labour demands.
"Only then we will be able to compete in the international labour market," he said.
The Baira president said because of low-skilled workers, Bangladesh earns much less in remittance compared to what Philippines earns, despite the fact that the Southeast Asian country has lesser number of migrant workers in different countries.
"We have 1.25 crore migrant workers abroadm while they [Philippines] probably have 10 to 15 lakh such workers. Yet, they earn some $33 billion annually because they are fully equipped and skilled in all sectors," he added.
Bangladesh earned $18.3 billion in remittance last year, according to the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training.
The Baira president said in coming days they are expecting that new demands for Bangladeshi workers will emerge in Europe, China and Russia.