UNLIKE the readymade garments (RMG) and other sectors where increase in earnings would require substantial fresh capital injection, much greater earnings from manpower export are possible for Bangladesh through only improved strategies and their implementation at relatively modest costs. The full potential of the manpower export sector remains hardly tapped. The country could be earning five or six times more than its present earnings from remittances of expatriate workers. As it is, this field is dominated entirely by private manpower exporters and many of them are expert at frauds. Even those who get jobs abroad finally through the auspices of these private manpower agents, are usually found underpaid or the terms and agreements of their contracts are not honoured by their foreign employers.
Both the number of people going out with jobs and the remittances sent by them could much rise, if only more skilled or qualified people were sent out. In each of these areas, the government has a role to play. Private operators are after quick money. They have no concern for individual happiness, justice or the national economy. It is for the government to look after these ends.
The government here should have started executing a policy long ago -- after careful survey abroad to determine the demand situation of the types of workers and their needed skills -- and established by now many training centres to produce regularly a large number of workers who would acquire skills to meet this demand. This would mean some investment in the public sector. But such investments would be easily recouped as a greater number of people found jobs abroad and started sending their earnings home.
Such a policy would essentially meet two objectives. On the one had, more people would be finding jobs abroad and, on the other hand, as they would be in the skilled category, remittances in greater volumes would be sent both because of the rising number of the senders of remittances and because they would be sending individually bigger amounts of remittances as their salaries or wages would be substantially higher than those of unskilled workers. Bangladesh at present sends out a large number of unskilled workers whose earnings from their jobs are understandably low.