Saudi arts workshop explores desert landscapes

Saudi arts workshop explores desert landscapes
Saudi arts workshop explores desert landscapes

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Dhaka prepares to send more skilled workers to Saudi Arabia under employment scheme

DHAKA: Bangladesh is laying the groundwork to send more skilled workers to Saudi Arabia, an official told Arab News, as migrant workers from the South Asian nation said the Kingdom’s Skill Verification Program was helpful for their career prospects.

Saudi Arabia launched the Workers’ Recruitment and Skill Verification Program in Bangladesh in February, which aims to advance the professional competence of employees in the Saudi labor market.

The program was initially focused on five professions: plumbers, electricians, welders, automotive electricians and air conditioning technicians. It has since expanded to also include construction workers, tilers, car mechanics and basic car maintenance workers.

“We are preparing more skilled workforces to cater to the demand in Saudi Arabia and other job markets,” Anwar Pasha, additional director-general at the Bureau of Manpower Export and Training, told Arab News on Saturday.

“Right now, around 150 technical training centers are providing training to prospective migrant workers and works are underway to establish more centers at the grassroots level across the country.”

The centers run by BMET are also providing language skills and cultural orientation programs, Pasha said, on top of facilitating the professional exams required to be certified as a skilled worker in Saudi Arabia.

“The professional examination program aims mainly to improve the performance and ensure the productivity of the workforce,” the Saudi Embassy in Dhaka said in a statement issued on Saturday.

The initiative, which is free of cost, is also aimed at providing “better job opportunities for skilled Bangladeshi workforce” and allowing them to compete to “take a greater market share” in the Gulf country.

“The presence of trained workers is an investment in Bangladeshi people, whether they work abroad or return, to contribute to the development of their country,” the statement read.

Saudi Arabia is the top destination for Bangladeshi migrant workers, where more than half of them currently live. 

Bangladesh may take some time to adapt to the new Skill Verification Program, but “it will bring better results” in the long run, said Shariful Hasan, head of the migration program at Bangladesh’s largest development organization BRAC.

“It’s an excellent and positive initiative,” Hasan told Arab News. “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.”

The Kingdom was the top source of remittances to Bangladesh in the 2022-2023 fiscal year, with workers bringing in nearly $3.8 billion, according to a July report published by the Bangladesh Bank.

The fact that the skill verification program bears no cost to migrant workers was a respite for 27-year-old Mohammed Solaiman, who is planning to work in Saudi Arabia as a plumber.

“It’s a relief,” Solaiman told Arab News. “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.”

Anowar Hossain, who is trained as an electrician, was also grateful for the free certification program, as he hopes to make good income in Saudi Arabia.

“It will be helpful for me as a migrant worker,” Hossain told Arab News. “As a skilled migrant worker, I will now be able to get better earnings in the Kingdom.”

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