Why are our migrant’s wages so low in gulf countries?


According to the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment, there are 43 Japanese, 32 Korean, 16 English, and four Chinese language training centres in the country, but none for Arabic, even though most expatriates went to Saudi Arabia last year.

News media reported that in the fiscal year 2022-23, 95 training centres across the country under BMET taught the languages of four countries.

A total of 2,423 trainees learned Japanese, Korean, English, and Chinese languages, whereas about 1.3 million workers migrated abroad at that time.

BMET has made language tests mandatory for labour migration to South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong, ensuring Bangladeshi workers face no complications in these regions.

Additionally, women domestic workers bound for the Middle East, the largest destination for Bangladeshi manpower exports, are required to undergo one-month Arabic language training.

However, officials acknowledge that this training is insufficient for learning Arabic adequately.

Arabic language courses were previously available but were discontinued due to decreased interest among students.


However, the ministry recently instructed the restarting of Arabic language courses nationwide in response to workers’ needs.

Emphasizing the importance of language skills in the labour market, workers from the Philippines, India, and Sri Lanka earn more than Bangladeshi workers simply because they possess better skills.

The trend of less educated and unskilled individuals are migrating abroad from Bangladesh due to a lack of government-managed language education opportunities.

The BMET data shows a record 11.35 lakh workers went abroad last year as economies started opening up with the easing of the Covid crisis.

Analysing government data, the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) in its 2022 Migration Trends Report said about 78.64 percent of workers who migrated last year were less skilled.

It was 75.24 percent the year before. It said last year about 3.26 percent of the workers were semi-skilled — like tailors, construction workers, and light machine operators.

The government needs to take major initiatives to ensure workers acquire language skills before going abroad. Beside government entities, non government and private organisations should come up Arabic langauge training programs.