Thirty-two-year-old Zakir Hossain travelled more than 170 kilometres from Netrakona to the capital early yesterday only to have his name registered with the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) for a job placement in Saudi Arabia.
Not even fears of arson attacks by alleged blockaders could deter him from taking bus rides after his elder brother told him about the low cost of migration to the Kingdom -- only Tk 20,000 -- agreed between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia a couple of days ago.
“Soon after getting a phone call from my brother, I made up my mind that I would reach Dhaka anyhow,” said Zakir, who runs a small shop at his village.
Like him, 25-year-old Mizanur Rahman, a garment worker in the capital, also had his name registered with the BMET with a hope to get a job in the oil-rich Middle Eastern country.
Saiful Islam, a graduate student at Titumir College in Dhaka, also rushed to Probasi Kalyan Bhaban to have his name registered for overseas job placement. The youth thinks he wouldn't get a decent job in Bangladesh.
Not only them. In the last two days, around 5,000 jobseekers got their names registered with the BMET. Many of them believe that the continued political violence would shrink the job market.
They didn't seem bothered about how many people were already there on the BMET's registration list.
Actually, more than 22 lakh jobseekers have already got their names registered with the BMET.
“High rate of underemployment has prompted many to get their names registered for a job in Saudi Arabia,” said Prof Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).
In Bangladesh, the official rate of unemployment is around 5 percent and that of underemployment 20 percent. This means, one in every four workforce is either unemployed or underemployed. Besides, 20 lakh people enter the job market every year.
According to Prof Mustafizur, low cost and zero travel expense have encouraged people to get a job in the Middle Eastern country. High unemployment rate -- nearly 50 percent -- among the educated youths pushes them to look for low-end jobs that would fetch Tk 20,000 a month.
Prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a report on graduate unemployment in South Asia last year said that nearly five out of every 10 graduates in Bangladesh are unemployed (against three out of 10 in India and Pakistan).
Saudi Arabia on February 1 decided to resume recruitment of Bangladeshi workers, lifting a six-year ban. It signed an agreement with Bangladesh on Tuesday in this regard.
Home to over 15 lakh Bangladeshis, the Kingdom will hire 10,000 workers from next month under 12 categories of domestic workers such as maids, drivers, housekeepers, security guards and gardeners.
Bangladesh received $3.1 billion in remittance from Saudi Arabia in fiscal 2013-14, the highest from a single country.