South Korea has turned into a lucrative destination for Bangladeshi migrants in the post-pandemic period, as it hired a record number of workers from Bangladesh in the last calendar year.
Bangladesh Overseas Employment and Services Limited (BOESL) sent 5,891 workers to South Korea in 2022.
This year, the outflow of workers to the East Asian nation is expected to double, meaning more than 10,000 Bangladeshis will migrate to the country this year, officials close to the development said.
This is worth noting that the number of jobs for Bangladeshi workers in that country was much lower in previous years.
Bangladesh was enlisted as a source country for sending workers through an Employment Permit System (EPS) to South Korea in 2008.
According to the data available with the BOESL, South Korea hired 1,595 workers from Bangladesh in 2008, 770 in 2009, 2,336 in 2010, 1,685 in 2011, 1,426 in 2012, 2,146 in 2013, 1,731 in 2014, 2,268 in 2015, 1,786 in 2017, 2,355 in 2018, and 1,645 in 2019.
However, the number declined significantly during the Covid-19 period. Bangladesh could send only 141 workers in 2020 and 111 in 2021, as per the statistics.
The Korean job quota for Bangladesh was 1,941 in 2022. As Bangladesh could fulfil the quota within a short time, the employing country increased the quota for two more times.
Through the EPS, South Korea hired foreign workers from 16 countries, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Timor-Leste, Uzbekistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, Pakistan, Vietnam, and Laos.
It recruits workers for its different manufacturing units, for instance, motor vehicles, rubber, plastic, and apparel industries.
South Korea sets recruitment quotas according to the ranking of migrant-sending countries. And this ranking is determined based on a country's performance in sending workers. Bangladesh currently ranks eighth in terms of number of sending workers to Korea and third in terms of sending workers faster.
The migrant-receiving country will announce the job quota for 2023 by March. This year Korea will hire at least 110,000 workers from its source countries. Bangladesh is expecting more quotas this year.
BOESL Managing Director Dr Mallick Anwar Hossain said they are hopeful that they will be able to send more than 10,000 workers this year.
He said Bangladesh is in a good position in the Korean ranking. "So, we can expect that we will get a good number of job quotas this year."
Mr Hossain said they are scheduled to join the annual conference on employment in South Korea on January 26-27.
They will also present Bangladesh's overall performance in sending workers to that country through the EPS, added the BOESL chief.
Bangladeshi workers get a wage of Tk 160,000 each for industrial jobs while professionals Tk 350,000 each.
Workers are recruited for a period of four years and 10 months. If they stay with respective companies during the contract period and subsequently return to the country of origin after expiry of the contract, they can go there again with jobs for a period of another four years.
Korea is a major source of remittance earnings for Bangladesh as a majority of migrants from this country send remittance through banking channels.
Bangladeshi migrants in Korea sent home US$96.29 million in remittance in the fiscal year (FY) of 2017-18, $112.51 million in FY 2019-20, $209.16 million FY 2020-21, and $135.46 million in FY 2021-22.
Bangladesh has so far sent more than 25,000 workers to the Korean market.
The BOESL, the lone state-owned recruiting agency, is entitled to send workers to the country.
The government's 43 technical training centres are providing training on Korean language, which is the most important qualification for Korean jobs.
A significant number of private Korean language training centres are also operating in Bangladesh.