Good news for recruitment agencies!
After a lull of nearly six years, there is talk about resumption of private recruiting agencies supplying expatriate labourers to the Malaysian market. While government-to-government recruitment procedures have been in place since 2012, only about 7,000 Bangladeshi workers have gone through official channels although nearly 1.5 million have registered to go and work there. The ban on private recruiting activities has hardly helped matters as it triggered a surge of illegal migration by boat and some 100,000 people travelling under the guise of tourism in the hope of finding work there.
Illegal migration has turned into a major headache for countries in the region including Malaysia. Given that demand for our workers exists and the official channel is not mature enough to handle large-scale migration of expatriate workers, it only stands to reason that the private sector be involved alongside the public sector.
Unless, however, we find a workable solution on who bears the cost of migration, the old system of unscrupulous recruiting agencies exploiting our workers will stage a comeback. Merely opening up the market for privately-owned agencies to operate will not have the desired results. The problems associated with false visas, human trafficking and other bottlenecks will have to be tackled between the governments. The database built up to verify individuals applying for jobs must be put to use in order to safeguard interests of both workers and employers abroad.