Dhaka – Bangladesh is making significant strides in laying the groundwork to send more skilled workers to Saudi Arabia, according to an official interviewed by Arab News. Migrant workers from Bangladesh have expressed their appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s Skill Verification Program, which has proven beneficial for their career prospects.
In February, Saudi Arabia launched the Workers’ Recruitment and Skill Verification Program in Bangladesh with the objective of enhancing the professional competence of employees in the Saudi labor market. Initially focused on five professions including plumbers, electricians, welders, automotive electricians, and air conditioning technicians, the program has since expanded to include construction workers, tilers, car mechanics, and basic car maintenance workers.
Anwar Pasha, the additional director-general at the Bureau of Manpower Export and Training (BMET), stated, “We are preparing more skilled workforces to cater to the demand in Saudi Arabia and other job markets.” Pasha further mentioned that approximately 150 technical training centers are currently providing training to prospective migrant workers, with plans underway to establish more centers at the grassroots level across the country.
The BMET centers not only offer technical training but also provide language skills and cultural orientation programs. Additionally, they facilitate the professional exams required for certification as skilled workers in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Embassy in Dhaka emphasized that the professional examination program aims to improve workforce performance and productivity.
The Skill Verification Program is free of cost and aims to provide better job opportunities for skilled Bangladeshi workers, enabling them to compete for a greater market share in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Embassy’s statement highlighted that trained workers are an investment in the development of Bangladesh, regardless of whether they work abroad or return to contribute to their home country.
Currently, Saudi Arabia is the top destination for Bangladeshi migrant workers, with more than half of them residing in the kingdom. While adapting to the new Skill Verification Program may take some time, Shariful Hasan, head of the migration program at BRAC, Bangladesh’s largest development organization, expressed optimism about its long-term benefits. Hasan stated, “I think Saudi Arabia may come up with investments here in Bangladesh for producing skilled workforces since the Kingdom will require a huge number of workers for the upcoming mega projects. It will create a mutual benefit for both countries.”
Saudi Arabia was the leading source of remittances to Bangladesh in the 2022-2023 fiscal year, with workers sending nearly $3.8 billion, as reported by the Bangladesh Bank in July.
The fact that the skill verification program is cost-free has provided relief to workers like 27-year-old Mohammed Solaiman, who plans to work in Saudi Arabia as a plumber. Solaiman expressed his gratitude, stating, “Because obtaining a certificate would have added some extra cost to my journey. The decision will definitely encourage many Bangladeshi migrants to get a job in the Kingdom.”
Similarly, Anowar Hossain, a trained electrician, expressed his appreciation for the free certification program, as it will enable him to secure better earnings in Saudi Arabia. Hossain said, “It will be helpful for me as a migrant worker. As a skilled migrant worker, I will now be able to get better earnings in the Kingdom.”
As Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia continue to strengthen their collaboration in the field of skilled labor, it is anticipated that the Skill Verification Program will contribute to the mutual prosperity of both nations while providing enhanced employment opportunities for Bangladeshi workers in the Kingdom.