There is a great demand for skilled people in the USA, Europe and Canada. Especially, they need a lot of health workers after the Covid-19 pandemic. But the reality is that we do not have any bilateral agreement with most of these countries regarding sending workers. In other words, we have no opportunity to send people on direct employment visas.
Many people are going to these countries with student visas and doing part-time jobs besides their study. Some of them are getting jobs after completing their graduation. Many people are also migrating to these countries through illegal routes crossing the seas on boats. As many of these people are also getting jobs, it means that there is a need for people to work there. If that is the case, then why cannot we convince the governments of these countries that irregular migration is a problem for everyone?
Our foreign ministry can take an initiative – they can contact the Canadian authorities, for example, and ask them to give us guidelines on the skills they need to recruit people from our country. In that case, we would be able to prepare our manpower with those skills as per their guidelines. Thus, discussion with their government can be an instrument to bringing changes in their immigration policy to allow foreign employment.
If we can train our people to develop those skills and send them to these countries, it will be a win-win. You can only expect accountability and security if people migrate through a formal channel. In Europe, people are going to countries like Greece, Romania, Poland, and Italy. There is an opportunity for employment in the formal channels in Italy. Bangladesh has recently signed an MoU with Greece and is trying to do the same with Romania.
European countries are trying to open their markets and for this, they need to change their employment policy. If they do not give job opportunities to migrants in the formal channel, then our people may go there illegally and find a way to stay there or may seek asylum. Most of our people who migrate to these countries in illegal ways are employed to do all the odd jobs like cleaning or dishwashing etc. But if we can send skilled nurses, the situation would change.
There is a chance that they will return to the country when we would be able to create facilities like abroad in our country. Many Indians are nowadays going abroad to study and coming back as they are getting good opportunities in their own country. So, we also have to convince those who are going to study in foreign universities that they will find the desired atmosphere while they return to the country.
We have to create an international standard education system in Bangladesh. So, there is a lot to be done here. We need to change the whole education system. If we cannot create our education system according to current needs and requirements, then we will not get skilled jobs abroad.
Lots of Indians and Sri Lankans are working as merchandisers in our country. Our people are not getting these jobs as they do not have the skills. The top jobs in the star hotels in our country are occupied by foreigners who are taking a huge amount of money from this country. It is our failure that we cannot make our people skilled enough to do these jobs.
Shamim Ahmed Chowdhury Noman is the former Secretary General of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies