Manpower is one of the major national resources of Bangladesh. About 35 million people constitute this vast reservoir of manpower. However, inadequate education and insufficient capacity of the local industry is responsible for a large section of the population remaining unemployed. At the current level of development it is not possible for Bangladesh to absorb the full range of available unskilled, semi-skilled and professional manpower within the country in an appropriate manner and hence the need to find employment opportunities for them abroad. The absence of a vibrant domestic labour market creates huge demand for overseas employment among the young labour force. Starting in 1976, over the years, Bangladesh has emerged as a notable exporter of manpower and a steady source of human resources to a number of foreign countries who need to import manpower from other countries.
In Bangladesh, private individuals on an informal basis started the recruitment of migrant workers in mid 1970’s. Although the government machineries got involved into the recruitment regulatory process a decade later, the dominance of the private sector along with unorganized, fragmented and ad-hoc nature of business has continued to characterize the overseas recruitment business.
The rapidly changing global economy is driven by innovative technologies and integrating markets. There has been a tremendous spurt in the growth of international trade in goods and services along with a significant rise in the international financial flows. Movement of people within and across nations is on the rise. In fact one of the biggest implications of a rapidly changing global economy has been on the impact on the labour market. In the last decade, cross border movement of people and remittances outflow from a large number of developed countries and remittances inflows into a number of developing countries has been increasing steadily. Since 1980 the stock of migrants has started moving two steps ahead of the average growth rate in the world population. According to the United Nations Report of 2006, about 3 per cent of the world population is in transit. Sizable portions of the people living outside their countries of birth send back regularly a part of their income home. Migrant remittances have made it possible to bring about direct, immediate and far-reaching benefits both to the families and the countries of the migrants. In fact the migrant workers provide a constant source of income—an amount larger and more predictable than the official development assistance, foreign direct investment and other private inflows.
The total inflow of remittances to recipient countries only through official channels is estimated to be US $ 268 billion in 2006. Our analysis suggests that in the next decade remittance will continue to be the driving force of the developing economies with the reduction in remittance costs and expanding networks in the remittance industry, greater movement of temporary workers and resultant growth in the migrant stock and incomes around the world. Going by the past decade’s trend and in the light of more multilateral and bilateral discussions, the global flow of remittances will expand rather rapidly to an estimated amount of US $ 400 billion by 2010 and cross US $ 600 billion mark by 2015. In the recent years progressive governments from both migrant sending as well as receiving countries have started adopting a strategic approach towards migration management. It is believed that with the implementation of GATS Mode 4 in the next decade there will be a much greater freedom of movement of temporary workers, at least in some areas, among the member countries of WTO. Hence, it is likely that there will be a cumulative temporary and permanent migration of about 80-100 million labourers around the globe.
This trend holds out a remarkable promise for the labour exporting nations like Bangladesh, if it works out and executes an effective strategy of developing, nurturing and exporting human resources in the coming years. Bangladesh is an important supplier of human resources—in fact in some developed destination countries it is a major supplier and accounts for about 3 per cent of the global remittance income. More than six million Bangladeshis work abroad and over a half million Bangladeshis join the migrant work force every year. Currently it receives an annual remittance amount of US $10 billion (2013) through official and an additional amount of US $9.0-10.0 billion through unofficial channels. The country’s manpower export industry is poised for a dramatic growth. To date this industry has played a major role in reducing the balance of payments problems by generating valuable foreign exchange earnings in the form of remittances.
Hopefully Bangladesh will achieve annual remittances of US $ 30 billion by 2015.