Last year Bangladesh sent around 400,000 workers to the Kingdom, according to data from the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training. Saudi Arabia is the largest labor market for Bangladeshi migrant workers, with 1.5 million employed in the Kingdom.
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It was led by Mahir Abdul Rahman Gassim, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister for international affairs at the Ministry of Labor and Social Development.
“Saudi Arabia is going to introduce a new system regarding the recruitment of skilled migrant workers,” Zahid Hossain, joint secretary of the Ministry of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment (EWOE) told Arab News. “We found the delegation very cooperative and keen on hiring Bangladeshi skilled migrants.”
He added that the Kingdom wanted to ensure that Bangladesh was working toward the initiative through training programs for the migrant workers.
“The delegation asked Bangladeshi authorities to provide training very carefully so that the migrant workers can cope with the working environment in the Kingdom. A technical committee from the Saudi Arabian government is expected to visit Bangladesh very soon to witness the preparations on ground.”
Bangladesh has 70 Technical Training Centers across the country to prepare its workforce for the global job market.
Saudi Arabia’s decision was a step in the right direction, one expert said.
“Bangladesh can get much more benefit through the export of its skilled manpower as workers’ salaries will be increased and the migration cost will also be reduced,” Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, secretary-general of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies, told Arab News.
Bangladeshi semi-skilled and unskilled migrant workers spend on average around $3,500 to secure a job in the Kingdom. This figure can go up to $4,500 in some cases.
“As we know, Saudi Arabia is preparing a list of source criteria for hiring skilled migrant workers and considering the present good relationship between the countries we hope Bangladesh will be one of the favorite choices.”
He added that the guidelines for recruitment, as provided by the Saudi government, would also help in regulating recruitment agencies in the country.
“The Saudi delegation proposed to help Bangladesh in preparing the skilled workers which will be a win-win situation for all,” Noman said.
He added that Bangladesh was already one of the top sourcing countries for employers in Saudi Arabia.
Remittances sent by Bangladeshi workers are the second-largest source of foreign currency for the Bangladesh government after those earned from exports of ready-made garments.
Last year the remittances amounted to $18 billion, 60 percent of which were sent by the Bangladeshi workforce in Saudi Arabia.
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