The stark reality of Covid-19 is that migrant workers have been left without protection. So, the transition from the pandemic reality is very difficult. The reopening of the Malaysian labour market, however, will certainly help to meet the target of overseas jobs generation. Now, there is a need to ensure the protection of aspirant migrants who want to go to Malaysia, so that minimum migration costs can be ensured.
We have been informed by our expatriate welfare ministry that there would be no syndicate of recruiting agencies on the Bangladesh side, but this needs to be ensured from the Malaysian side too. The initiative to control and regularise the recruitment sector should be continued in the New Year as per the directives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. We have been observing that the manpower recruiting agencies in most cases have staunchly opposed any kind of regulation. They are linked to the middlemen.
At the same time, we have to proactively pursue skills. The authority here emphasises on infrastructural development, for instance, focusing on how many technical training centres (TTCs) have been built. Now, however, it is time to shun that way of thinking and come up with the skills in different sectors which are valued, such as caregivers. But we do not have any kind of preparation in this regard. That needs to be taken care of.
Besides, tourism and hospitality was a booming sector during the pre-Covid situation. Now, the sector is also returning to normalcy as the Covid-19 pandemic is gradually being tackled. We have to take proper steps to send skilled workers to this sector.
Basic knowledge on information technology is also very important in every sector nowadays. We need to improve the IT-knowledge of aspirant migrants.
Furthermore, the demand for health professionals has always been high. Now, the demand will grow more after Covid-19, especially for health technicians and lab technicians. We have the scope to utilise the opportunity. There is no need for a giant programme to capitalise on this sector.
We need to conduct training by bringing master trainers. If we can send these types of skilled workers in health and other sectors in the coming months, remittance flow will be increased. Besides, more protection will not be needed for these skilled workforces.
When the rate of migration flow is low for a year or two, the rate of remittances naturally decreases the following year. It takes time to rise again. Now, if the rate of overseas jobs continues to rise, then the fall in the rate of remittances will definitely be somewhat compensated for; it may also slightly increase.
The author is Executive Director, Refugee and Migratory Movement Research Unit (RMMRU) and Professor of International Relations at the University of Dhaka