Manpower export to S Korea to pick up again next month
A Z M Anas
Migration of Bangladeshi workers to South Korea will pick up again as Seoul is unveiling quota next month for labour exporting nations including Bangladesh under its special job scheme, officials said Wednesday.
South Korean companies, hammered by the global financial and economic crisis, have put off taking in Bangladeshi workers since March 2009, just a year after it began hiring from Bangladesh under the Employment Permit System (EPS).
The US$1.0 trillion South Korean economy, heavily reliant on exports, was hit hard when demand for merchandise in the developed world crimped in the wake of the global financial crisis. That also sapped demand for foreign workers.
“Hopefully, the issuance of job offer will begin in time and sending of workers will resume soon,” Begum Shamsun Nahar, managing director of Bangladesh Overseas Employment and Services Ltd. said.
Ms Nahar said Dhaka and Seoul are also taking steps to renew the two-nation manpower deal, which expired last year.
Korean Labour Ministry officials, now visiting Bangladesh, also echoed the same views, saying recruitment from Bangladesh and 14 other nations would pick up as the Asia’s fourth largest economy has sprung back to life.
The BOESL head said some 2500 Bangladeshi workers secured jobs, mostly in the Korean manufacturing sector, since 2008 when Bangladesh began catering migrants to the labour market of Korea.
Officials at the BOESL estimated that around 5,000 Bangladeshi jobseekers were waiting for job offer as Korea suspended new recruitment.
“The delay in their recruitment is creating both economic hardship and mental agony for the workers,” the BOESL official said.
Bangladeshi workers used to go to South Korea since 1994 through private recruiting agents under the industrial trainee system (ITS), which was replaced later by EPS.
Out of 2710 job offers received, officials said around 2500 workers landed factory jobs under the EPS after completion of all procedures.
Under the MoU, two government agencies-Bangladesh Overseas Employment Services Limited (BOESL) of Bangladesh and Human Resources Development of Korea-are entrusted with the exclusive responsibility to hire Bangladeshi workers.
Bangladeshi workers living in South Korea sent home over $18 million in 2009, according to central bank figures.
Ms Nahar said the introduction of EPS has substantially reduced the cost of migration and exploitation of workers.
She said a worker can secure job in South Korea, spending just Tk 54,000, which is much lower than Tk 84,000 in official fees for employment in Malaysia.
But she said the wages are much higher in South Korea, compared to most other traditional manpower markets in Asia, which hosts the bulk of Bangladeshi workers.
In Bangladesh, international labour migration has rapidly gained prominence as one of the main employment generating sectors and one of the largest sources of foreign exchange earnings.
Over a period of 33 years, between 1976 and 2008, more than 6.26 million Bangladeshi workers found overseas jobs, according to official figures.
The annual outflow has been steadily growing, peaking at 875,000 in 2008 while the remittances sent by migrant workers through legal channels alone also touched the peak last year, amounting to over US$ 10 billion.