Whether a citizen is employed in his own country or abroad, his salary is normally determined on his job performance or experience. It is seen that the amount of income of employees employed in the same job differs due to difference in their skill.
There is nothing ‘gratis’ in the present world. We have to earn everything in exchange of our hard labour. So, there is no alternative of an employee’s skill. And, training is the first stage to be skilled. In fact, training makes a person confident to work properly. It is evident that a trained worker’s income is 3/4 times higher than a general worker. Besides, a trained worker is more aware of his works and other responsibilities than a general or unskilled worker. Nobody can deny this fact.
Among the South Asian countries, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are the main migrant workers sending countries. And most of the unskilled workers are sent from Bangladesh. Because of this, the amount of remittance received by us (remittance per worker) is lower than other countries of this region. Bangladeshi migrant workers are divided into four categories, namely – unskilled (general workers), semi-skilled, skilled and professional. We can see from the last 20 years’ data that the number of unskilled workers from Bangladesh was the highest (40% -50%). And only one-third was skilled workers. Professionals were the lowest, only 5 to 7 per cent. That’s why, in most of the recipient countries, the majority of our workers are unskilled. However, in a couple of countries, like Oman and Bahrain, the number of skilled workers is more than other categories. It has also been observed that Bangladesh received more remittances in proportion of migrant workers from a country in where the ratio of skilled and semi-skilled workers was more than others. It is true that the salary, allowances and other benefits of all countries are not the same, there is considerable gap. This might have some positive impact on remittances. Besides, there remains the question whether the money is remitted through any illegal means or through recognised banking channels.
Generally speaking, we consider the huge population of 160 million people of Bangladesh as a big burden. To be honest, yes, it is a big burden. Millions of unemployed people are moving here and there for a job, and the number of unemployed is increasing day by day. Even, they are leaving the country for abroad in any way they can find. Sometimes, people are losing their lives on their way. This is happening as we do not have appropriate and visionary plans for them. Actually, we are less interested to streamline this national crisis. It is a big blunder to push these young people into a life of uncertainty. But they would be our asset if we could get them prepared accordingly. In fact, this population of Bangladesh would not remain as a burden if they are transformed into man-power. But to do so, it is necessary to formulate appropriate policies for implementation through governmental and non-governmental organisations. And that would not be a very difficult task to do. Only the government has to take necessary steps.
I believe that the time has come to bring changes in the existing education system of our country. Primary education can be made compulsory. However, in doing that, there should be some arrangements so that it does not create any pressure economically on the families living under poverty. In fact, education should be fully realistic, work-oriented and, above all, creative. An employment friendly environment should be ensured so that anyone can find a job after completion of his/her education. The aim of education should never be to create unemployment. Rather, it should be aimed at creating a highly skilled group of people. Only after reaching this goal, Bangladesh will be able to establish itself as a developed nation.
We have to create employment opportunities at home and abroad to reduce the unemployment rate and at the same time, we have to train our workforce so that they do not face much problem to get any job. We have to think about the matter and find the ways. In the current realities of Bangladesh, it is very important to arrange vocational training for those youth who have never been to the schools as well as those who end their education after primary, secondary and higher secondary level for various reasons. Even those students who are not so meritorious may be considered for vocational or technical education instead of general education.
It is true that there is a shortage of vocational training institutes in our country to meet the demand. Furthermore, if the government likes to implement the above-mentioned training programme, then the situation would be more severe. It is not also possible to establish required training institutes overnight. But we can organise training programmes using alternative ways, if we actually wish to. It is not difficult or expensive to arrange trainings for the youths at the upazila level. There is no upazila in Bangladesh where there is no high school or college. These school or college buildings can be used for the purpose of training. Training schedules can be set in the afternoon or evening after the class hours. The duration of training in this system would usually be a little longer than the normal day-time training institutes. However, considering the existing constraints, the proposed system might be the best to bring the whole nation under such training.
Upazila Youth Development Officer (or any other official) can be given the responsibility for implementing this plan. The government will provide training tools and necessary materials. In addition to permanent instructors, we can also use skilled locals who have returned from their job abroad. Cost to organise such training programmes will be much lower. If necessary, government might seek cooperation from international organisations, such as ILO and IOM. Even private financial institutions (banks, insurance, etc.) may come forward. In addition, such training can be arranged at the private level under government’s supervision. I believe that within a few years we will be able to make Bangladesh a skilled man-power rich country. Needless to say that there is a high demand for skilled workers in the world.
We must keep in mind that the training programmes should be international standard. And thus the programmes should be conducted accordingly including the preparation of training syllabus. Training syllabus should be changed from time to time so that the demand of our trained workers remains consistent as per world labour market. After completion of training, the information of all participants will be stored in the Central Data Bank (according to trade or work type) of the government. I am confident that after taking such training, many youths will be able to find works in different organisations of the country including self-employment. And those who intend to work abroad, government will arrange their recruitment from the data bank. The economy of Bangladesh would benefit a lot if immediate steps are taken for its implementation.
The writer is former Ambassador and Secretary